To understand the potential seriousness of Tomas Vokoun and his blood clot condition, where he had to have surgery Saturday to dissolve a clot in his pelvis area, we need to turn back to April 2006, the first time that Vokoun had this problem. From an ESPN article from that time:
"In my mind, I think I'm going to use it as motivation and have it like a second chance in my career and try to be better," Vokoun said Wednesday.
Vokoun had back pain in April when doctors diagnosed him with pelvic thrombophlebitis, a rare blood condition that created a multitude of blood clots. He spent more than three days in the hospital while doctors ran tests and gave him blood thinners to reduce risks of a clot breaking loose.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota cleared Vokoun on Monday after reviewing his status. The blood clots that kept Vokoun from finishing last season and put him on three months of blood thinners likely resulted from a childhood accident.
Vokoun said the blood clots didn't grow or get smaller with the blood thinners.
"That's basically the sign of being an old blood clot turning into scar tissue and growing into the side of the veins in your stomach, which is part of my anatomy right now. It's just something you just live with. Your body finds different ways to fix broken stuff inside you," Vokoun said.
Vokoun was only 10 months old when he grabbed a tablecloth, dumping hot coffee on himself. The blood clot is in his right groin, near where doctors inserted a catheter during his treatment as a baby.
"It's just a part of me right now," Vokoun said. "They're not primed to break loose or anything. They're just scar tissue right now, and they're stable."
That's scary stuff, and first off we obviously just hope that Vokoun is OK and able to have a normal and healthy life.
But the season is still going to start in two weeks and a big takeaway is that Vokoun had to be on blood thinners for three months. If there's a similar time-table this time, that would have him out for a significant chunk of the season, since a player taking blood thinners can't be practicing or playing ice hockey.
The Pens say for now that they will let Jeff Zatkoff have a chance to be the #2 guy, but appearing in the NHL in a regular season game would be uncharted waters for the 26 year old goalie who's spent his whole professional career at the AHL level.
We'll watch and wait what happens to Vokoun, and how stable starter Marc-Andre Fleury will be...But for the Penguins, their stable goaltending situation has definitely been thrown into a state of disarray right now with the news that their veteran backup is on the shelf for an unknown amount of time.