Vokoun (blood clots) to skate in Pittsburgh tomorrow

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Pens goalie Tomas Vokoun will take a big step in his comeback from a serious blood clotting issue on Wednesday, as he’ll skate with the club for the first time since going on IR in late September.

According to Pens head coach Dan Bylsma, Vokoun has been off blood thinners for a week and will resume taking shots in practice when his levels are normal. This development comes roughly four months after Vokoun “nearly died” after being admitted to hospital to dissolve a clot in his leg.

“I was lucky I was sent to hospital so quickly. I nearly died during weekend,” Vokoun said. “My foot was swollen, I had blood clots from mid-thigh almost to the heart. I was thinking about the end of my career. ”

It wasn’t the Czech netminder’s first bout with blood clotting issues. He was diagnosed with pelvic thrombophlebitis while playing with Nashville in April 2006, a rare blood condition that creates a multitude of blood clots. That ailment forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season and all of the playoffs.

Vokoun was put on injured reserve to begin this season, with a recovery timetable of 3-6 months. In early December, he told reporters he no longer had any health issues and would try to return to the Pens this season.

While Vokoun has been out, the Pens have rolled with Jeff Zaktoff as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury. The former Miami (Ohio) University product has played well — 7-2-1, .906 save percentage, 2.67 GAA — and signed a two-year, $1.2 million extension with Pittsburgh in December.