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.