Predators' Vokoun ready to play hockey again

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tomas Vokoun knows his blood clots could
pose problems in the future. For now, the Nashville Predators
goaltender is healthy and ready to play hockey again.

"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."

Vokoun had a career-best 36-18-7 record last season, playing in
61 of Nashville's first 74 games. When his season ended, he ranked
fifth in the NHL with his record in goal. He also helped the Czech
Republic win bronze at the Olympics.

He had a 2.67 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.

Losing the goalie was a blow the Predators couldn't overcome,
falling in five games to San Jose in the first round of the

General manager David Poile said getting Vokoun back was similar
to an offseason acquisition or big free-agent signing. He said they
exhausted the options of what could or should be done with Vokoun's
condition and are happy that the father of two young girls has his
health and can lead a normal life.

"Selfishly, it's very important to the Nashville Predators as
our No.1 goalie," Poile said.

Vokoun, who turned 30 earlier this month, has been busy lifting
weights and conditioning -- work that was not limited by being on
blood thinners. He has added about 10 pounds of weight and planned
to skate perhaps as soon as Thursday.

The goalie said he was excited by the Predators' offseason
additions of center Jason Arnott and trading for 6-foot-4 Jason
Vasicek, a fellow Czech native. Nashville also re-signed goalie
Chris Mason, who filled in for Vokoun.

"I'm going to go out and get myself in the best possible
position to play well and play hockey because it's a lot of fun. I
love to do it. I'm glad I get the chance to do it again," Vokoun