The Washington Times - March 19, 2013, 02:50PM

PITTSBURGH | Tomas Vokoun knows a thing or two about groin injuries. When he suffered the first of his career last season while playing for the Washington Capitals, he couldn’t get healthy.

On the day Brooks Laich was set to return from his extended absence because of a groin injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins veteran goaltender discussed his own problem and the concern about returning too quickly.

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“I rushed back and look at what happened to me,” Vokoun said. “My problem was I never had it before. I didn’t know how to deal with it. It definitely is not worth trying to rush back because if you do … who knows what I cost myself doing that?”

This was the first groin injury of Laich’s career, too. Defenseman Mike Green, also out with a groin injury, missed 41 games last season because of a tear that required sports hernia surgery.

Vokoun, now 36, hurt his groin in February 2012, tried to play and then ultimately was done for the season after aggravating the injury March 29 at the Boston Bruins. He was still feeling the effects in September.

“From my own experience anybody who has a groin injury, even talking to guys here, take as much as time as you need,” Vokoun said. “Because it’s not worth it if you come back for one or two games and then you’re done for the year.”

Groin injuries are worse for goaltenders than skaters, but it can be tough because there’s no way to play through it.

“You’ve just got to wait, do lots and lots of rehab and make sure when you come back you’re a hundred percent,” Vokoun said.

Vokoun knows more than anyone else in the Penguins’ locker room how much Laich making his season debut means to the Caps.

“Obviously that was a big loss for them right from the start,” Vokoun said. “He’s obviously good two-way player, play responsible games. Good penalty-killer and guy who goes to dirty areas and stuff like that.”