If the Pittsburgh Penguins had any concerns about the ability of Marc-André Fleury to bounce back this season from his disastrous playoff performance, they surely were comforted by the presence of Tomas Vokoun. The classy veteran stepped up when Fleury stumbled last spring, giving the team the calming presence it needed then. He promised to be there if the Pens needed it again this season.
Well, so much for that safety net.
Vokoun is sidelined in the wake of a procedure to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis. Losing a player whose stabilizing presence was being counted on is bad enough, but the situation is complicated by the absence of a timetable for his recovery. He’ll be out for as long as he needs to take blood thinners. Whether that’s days, weeks or months is anyone’s guess.
That puts the pressure squarely on Fleury to step up from the start of the season. Maybe that’s the best situation for the struggling netminder. Throw him in the deep end without floaties and let him figure out how to keep his head above water.
But what if he can’t do it? How do the Pens bail him out without creating a bigger problem down the line?