Pavelec Sits at the Olympics: Does His Own Country Disapprove?

Kevin McCartney
February 12 2014 03:07PM

Ryan Lambert wrote about the Pavelec snub just today on Puck Daddy. To him, that Pavelec has been listed as the third string goalie of the opening contest is a sign that the decisions makers on the Czech team are more willing to face reality than the Winnipeg Jets about the ability level of the leaky netminder.

Elliotte Friedman had a different take, and one that Pav supporters and bright-side Jets fans will no doubt cite often. It's just game one of the round robin. No one knows who the real starter will be when things get more competitive.

Lambert cites Pavelec's NHL struggles. Friedman cites Pavelec's bronze medal performance at the 2011 World Championships. But what about his lockout appearance with Bili Tygri HC of Liberec? 

Surely many Jets fans remember the vaguely embarrassing episode in their goalie's recent past. With the NHL locked out and Europe facing their international competition period, Liberec gave Pavelec a two month contract to early November. After a 4-10 run with a 3.50 GAA and .896 sv%, the team chose not to renew the backstop. On a team led by Petr Nedved (53 pts in 48GP), that invited other NHL'ers Ladislav Smid (14pts in 22GP), Wayne Simmonds (6pts in 6GP), and Chris Stewart (1pt in 5GP) during the season, Pavelec was tremendously un-NHL-like in his performance.

Our friends Arctic Ice covered the story as it happened back in 2012, concluding it was hard to tell who ended that relationship but it's hard to think the team was happy.

Here were are just 15 months later, and it seems Pavelec's stock has fallen considerably in his own national program. During that stint in Liberec, Pavelec played three undefeated games in international play in Finland. And as Friedman notes, he took a heavy rotation in the 2011 World Championships. Nevertheless, despite "Winnipeg Jets" being scrawled on his resume, Pavelec's most recent appearance in the Czech Republic was an embarrassing one that Czech fans and coaches alike remember very clearly. 

We may see him in this Olympic tournament, as coaches rarely need much pressure to be convinced that resume length is tantamount to player quality. A pair of losses would almost certainly give Pavelec a chance between the pipes. 

Still, the signs of a lost prospect are all around Pavelec this season. From ESPN leaving him off the list of top-25 netminders and Noel agreeing, to having the worst month of his career in December, to being in the stands at the Olympics behind two non-NHL goalies, Pavelec's reputation is beginning to reflect his numbers. And through all the narratives to defend Pavelec, his numbers are - and have forever been - bad. 

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Kevin is the Managing Editor of Jets Nation. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, The Sporting News, and around the Nations Network. An enthusiastic over-analyst, his background and interests are diverse, but you might notice he's obsessed with hockey. Track him down on twitter @kevinmccart or @nhljetsnation
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#1 The Last Big Bear
February 14 2014, 08:15AM
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In meager defence of Pavelec, that Czech team was not being coached to win.

I don't know what the coach's agenda was, but with Ales Hemsky being iced as the 13th fwd, and Ladislav Smid not getting a single second of ice time, he clearly wasn't trying to ice the squad with the best chance of beating Sweden.

Added to this are the baffling decisions to snub Vrbata and Hudler... Twice.

I wouldn't take the Czech national team's treatment of a guy as any kind of indication of his ability.

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#2 The Keystone Garter
February 15 2014, 03:32AM
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Good on the Slovenians to get their 1st win. All the power to them. The Czech goalie they put in had the best stats in the KHL. It is almost good to go in 2nd. Look how Price flubbed his chances by overplaying, just like Brodeur did last time around and like Fleury did as a Jr.. I like Grabner as an immediate Jet acquisition. Not positioned well for the playoffs but have to give it a 1/2-hearted push after two non playoff years. I'd give up the 2nd round pick for Glenn. But if you have O-Shea as a coach you might as well let him draft a Lineman. I'm realizing I don't have to like the Bombers to go to their games at $22 a pop. My problem with Sherman's comment was it is mentally ill. It made me think of the Superbowl as two gangs playing eachother. Sport had to be one of the inspirations for Greece to pursue excellence in other areas, good for fitness, and is an alternative to war. But if you are holding sport hostage with your mentally ill comments... Pavelec started off as one of the better goaltending prospects and got worse every year. Jets erred big by giving him a contract right when had a DUI. I'd have cut him right there. But I like running a good ship. Probably somewhere in between NHL and IIHF dimensions are ideal. Be nice to have a few games in the NHL where rosters are chosen for finesse and 90 feet wide. I notice Mess didn't get a four or a five minute penalty when he HS-ed in retaliation during 1987. I don't think Canada would've won a fairly called game but were missing lots of players. I'm guessing a whole bunch of Czechs were partying, and you don't want to jeopardize salary by revealing this. With no Hudler and Hertl they can't medal. Not enough strength on strength. Uneven pools would help. Two byes in pool A with 3rd place team advancing, top two advance in pool B and top team in crappy pool C. A game or two before hand to determine seeding. Be nice to see the winter olympics every 3 years. There is more technology in the winter version: improvising bridges over canals and the creeping barrage and such forth.

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#3 The Keystone Garter
February 15 2014, 03:39AM
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It isn't fair to pick less than an entire game, but that game 1 OT is the best hockey I've ever seen. But if Toews is clicking with Carter and Marleau/Nash, I guess you don't pair him with Crosby. Propp looked bad except when with Gretz. International hockey had a golden age when Slovakia and the Czechs and the Finns were good 2000-2006. In a World Cup, you might want to pair up some crappier nations and go 5-8 team round-robin. Swiss Austria would be a good team.

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