As players who were scheduled to appear in an afternoon preseason game Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets were trickling into the Penguins locker room at Consol Energy Center after a morning skate, Tomas Vokoun was warming up on the floor.
He stretched. He rolled on a softball-sized ball. Perhaps he felt some stiffness, which could have been a portent of the concerning medical situation he found himself in shortly afterward.
Vokoun, who last season served as a strong backup to Marc-Andre Fleury, left a subsequent practice for those players not in the day's lineup after he experienced discomfort and swelling. He was diagnosed with a blood clot in his pelvis and had a procedure to dissolve it at a local hospital while the Penguins were losing, 5-3, to the Blue Jackets.
He will remain in the hospital for several days and will be out of the lineup indefinitely, a time frame that could be at least partially determined by whether and for how long he might be on blood-thinners.
"I think over the next two, three days we'll know more," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said, adding that doctors felt the procedure went "smoothly."
Vokoun, 37, was 13-4 last season, his first with the Penguins, but his value shot up in the playoffs when he replaced Fleury, who struggled. Vokoun helped the Penguins reach the Eastern Conference final, compiling a 2.01 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in 11 games.
Shero asked Fleury to work on some things and talk to a sports psychologist over the summer.
"It's been OK. A work in progress," Shero said of Fleury. "If Tomas is going to be out for a while, it's a situation where Marc's going to have to step up."
The Penguins have a third goaltender in training camp, Jeff Zatkoff, and Shero said Zatkoff probably will play in one of the team's two remaining preseason games.
Late in the 2005-06 season, Vokoun, then with Nashville, was diagnosed with thrombophlebitis of the pelvis, a blood clot condition. He missed the final four regular-season games and the playoffs but apparently had had no problems related to the condition since.
Until Saturday, when Vokoun pulled himself out of the practice for players not in the lineup.
"I thought Tomas actually tweaked something in a hip or a groin or something," said Shero, who was watching the practice.
"He left the ice. He had some leg pain. We evaluated it quickly. His leg was swelled up a bit, and that was kind of a red flag."
Christopher Harner, one of the team physicians, examined Vokoun and sent him to the hospital.
Shero said as far as he knew, there were no other problems and the blood clot, or pieces of it, had not traveled through Vokoun's veins and into any vital organs.
"That's the good news -- everything was caught early," Shero said.