September 18, 2011
Pavelec not faint of heartJets goalie ready to shoulder load
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - It was one of the scariest sights of the 2010-11 NHL season.
The vision of then-Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec fainting in goal, losing consciousness and suffering a concussion after hitting the ice just over two minutes in the season opener against the Washington Capitals.
Pavelec would love to tell you what prompted the incident, but he honestly doesn’t know.
“I don’t remember. I just saw it on the video right away in the hospital and that’s something I don’t want to see anymore,” Pavelec, now the goalie of the Winnipeg Jets, recalled on the first day of on-ice sessions at Jets training camp on Saturday. “I just fainted and I remember when the lights go on and the national anthem and then I woke up in the ambulance.
“I was three days in the hospital after that and they couldn’t find anything (wrong). They just say sometimes you faint and it sometimes happens. It happened to me but after that they gave me the green light. I don’t have to go to the hospital anymore and I don’t have to go see doctors anymore. I can do what I did before and I put it behind me. Hopefully, it never happens again.”
After spending some time in the hospital and going through a battery of tests, Pavelec was back to full health and showed no ill effects as the season wore on. He played a career-high 58 games and posted a career-best 21 victories.
“It was huge,” said Pavelec. “In the first couple of games back, I didn’t feel right because I missed 10 or 14 days off the ice. At the end of the year, when I look back, I was lucky I could play those games and try to help the team.”
Pavelec, a 24-year-old from the Czech Republic, wants to continue to be a workhorse this season, saying without hesitation that he’d like to start every game.
The enthusiasm is admirable, but Pavelec will need to get his rest in order to remain sharp, especially with a capable backup like Chris Mason in the fold.
As for what style of play he employs between the pipes, Pavelec called it a hybrid.
“I don’t try to be just one style,” he said. “I would like to say I’m butterfly but sometimes you have to change your game a little bit. I grew up watching Dominik Hasek on TV. I don’t want to say I’m his style but I try to stop the puck and it doesn’t matter how.”
While Pavelec has flown under the radar when it comes to gaining recognition around the hockey world, his teammates believe he can be an elite goaltender in the NHL.
“When the guy is on his game, he’s unbelievable,” said defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. “He’s fun to watch and fun to play with.”
“He’s a very dynamic goalie,” added captain Andrew Ladd. “He’s got a great glove and he’s quick down low. People will be pleasantly surprised with what we have in goal.”
The Jets continue training camp on Sunday and play their first pre-season games on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.