Sunday, December 11, 2011

times that we have screwed over Tomas Vokoun

1.    $1.5 million. I know. It's a great deal for us and it was a coup for GMGM, but if you're a goalie whose market value is much, much higher than that and you've worked hard for that market value, compiled great career numbers--ouch. I know he didn't show any sort of bad grace about where he ended up, but to put it mildly, that's got to sting. To put it less mildly--that's downright humiliating.

2.    Opening night. While I know that the coaching staff is not obligated to give any certain goalie a start, especially when we have (or appeared to have at the time) two such talented goalies to choose from, Vokoun was well within reason to expect that he would be playing that game. Which was why he flew his kids in. From Florida. To watch him sit on a bench. His family does not live in state, he left them back in Florida for the year, and this may have been one of his only chances to do something like this.
    3.   Panthers game. Another one of those rare opportunities--Vokoun gets tickets for his family so that they can come see him play. It's expected that he will--we all saw the hilariously overhyped Panthers splash page about "The Return of Vokoun", but that game saw him sitting on the bench. Again. While his family watched the game.

      Once again, the team is not exactly beholden to make sure that cute storylines work out--HELLO WIDEMAN HAT TRICK--that is not their first priority, nor would I want it to be--but we also don't have the best record for handling goalies well in recent years. More than any other player on the ice, the goalie's mental state is actually quite connected to their performance. Establishing healthy competition for a starting role is one thing--treating an established veteran goalie as if he will have no mental or emotional reaction to being slighted is unrealistic. 

      He's been nothing but professional with the media--the same can't be said for his agent, but Vokoun himself has been nothing but polite. At times, though, he's been coldly polite, and at times his answers have been rather canned, there have been signs of frustration or snippiness ("I'm a paid employee"), and lack of confidence in the coaching staff. We want our goalie to feel possessive of his net, and feeling Neuvirth over his shoulder isn't all bad, either. But there is no reason that Neuvirth being started should ever be delivered as a slap in the face, and there is nothing helpful or productive about insulting your goalie. 

      Despite whatever your personal opinion may be of Vokoun, facts are that he's not going anywhere until at least the end of the season--and the facts are, we know that he is capable of being a truly top-notch goalie, though he's gone through ups and downs this year, to put it mildly. There were probably quite a few factors to that "down" period here recently, I have just been wondering if perhaps a deteriorating trust level with the franchise might have been one of them. Pure speculation, based almost entirely on body language and reading heavily between the lines--barring some kind of unexpected blowup that I don't think that's the kind of thing Vokoun himself would ever come out and say. 

      The point is--we have a right to expect that an NHL goalie be mentally tough. We do not have the right to expect that he not be human. If we want him to play like a Vezina-level goalie, perhaps we'd better start treating him like one. 

      No comments:

      Post a Comment