USATSI_7443193_154158418_lowresAfter 15 seasons and 700 games, Tomas Vokoun is calling it quits. The goalie announced his retirement through the Czech daily Sport.

Vokoun was drafted into the National Hockey League by the Montreal Canadiens way back in 1994. He was the taken 226th overall, but he spent the next year in the Czech Republic playing with Kladno in the Czech league.

By the time he got to North America, Vokoun suited up for the ECHL Wheeling Thunderbirds and then the Fredericton Canadiens of the AHL. When he finally did debut for Montreal, it was a bust. He allowed four goals in his one game and was yanked after 20 minutes.

Opportunity really knocked for Vokoun when the Nashville Predators entered the NHL and selected him during the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft. He buckled down an earned a permanent roster spot by 2000 as the back-up to Mike Dunham. When the Preds traded Dunham away to the Rangers in 2002, Vokoun became the man.

He became known for shouldering a great deal of time between the pipes and in 2002-2003 he’d played in 69 games. He won 25 of them and finished with a 2.20 goals against average, giving the Predators at least some credibility. In the 2003-2004 season, he topped the numbers and played in 73 games. He won 34.

For the next stretch, Vokoun was a marathon man in goal. He often played in over 50 and sometimes 60 games each season, even after he was traded to the Florida Panthers for draft picks in 2007. Together with Craig Anderson, Vokoun elevated the beleaguered Panthers within a breath of the post-season.

In 2011, he signed with the Washington Capitals and has a rough go of it. By 2012-2013, it was winding down. He inked a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins and played in 20 games. He won 13, but it was not to be. He’d need surgery to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis, but by January of 2014 there was no known timetable for a return.

And now, retirement. The 38-year-old leaves a solid legacy. He’s among the best goalies Nashville has ever known and he holds franchise records in games played and saves made. He’s a two-time All-Star and he’s represented his native Czech Republic internationally as well in four IIHF World Championships, two Winter Olympics and in the 2004 World Cup.

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