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Pavelec's Olympic performance leaves fans fuming

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A shot by USA forward Dustin Brown beats Czech Republic goaltender Ondrej Pavelec in a quarter-final game in Sochi on Wednesday.

CHUCK MYERS / MCT Enlarge Image

A shot by USA forward Dustin Brown beats Czech Republic goaltender Ondrej Pavelec in a quarter-final game in Sochi on Wednesday.

With less-than-stellar stats stacked up against a $3.9-million salary, Ondrej Pavelec often serves as a whipping boy for Jets fans who wish their starting goalie had a save percentage in excess of .901 and let in fewer than 2.97 goals per game.

While Pavs may be used to the Winnipeg fishbowl -- if he pays attention to fanboy criticism at all -- he may not have been prepared for the outpouring of international ire following his performance in the Czech Olympic squad's final, disastrous game against the United States.

Pavelec let in four goals on 12 shots in the 4-1 loss and was hooked in favour of Alexander Salak, who let in one more goal. The Twitter response to the game was voluminous and somewhat vicious in the Czech Republic and elsewhere across the hockey-watching world.

With the help of Google Translate -- and we're using the word "help" loosely here -- here's a sampling of the response in the mountains of Bohemia and beyond:

 

Somewhat-forgiving Czechs

Czechs are a lot like Canadians, in that they tend to give people the benefit of the benefit of the doubt.

"So Ondrej Pavelec failed at the wrong time, but never mind, life goes on," tweeted a Czech fan named Zdenik Chrenovský.

"To succeed in such a tournament, you need above-average performance," added Tom°° Svoboda. "The Americans were too fast."

Some fans criticized Pavelec as well as the entire Czech team.

"Did they fight to blood? Somehow, I don't think so," said Martin Hlousek. "The Americans were playable, they made some lucky shots, but Pavelec did not hold us."

Please note the ever-helpful Google Translate actually turns "Americans" into "Amici," which of course means "friends" in Italian.

Google Translate also turns Czech goalie Jakub Kovar's surname into "blacksmith."

"It would be maybe better if we had a blacksmith as our goalkeeper today," wisecracked Prague resident Marek Fort, who helped translate some of these tweets.

 

Less-than-forgiving Czechs

Other folks from Pavelec's homeland didn't try to hide their feelings about his .667-save-percentage Olympic quarter-final performance.

"Pavelec should go to a brothel, because he just can't catch anything," sneered @honzavoves23, a fan based in Plzen, a city not far from the German border.

"Pavelec is not Hašek, Eliaš is not Ruzicka and Hadamczik is definitely not Hlinka!" said Petr Kral, referring to the Czech Olympic squad that won gold in Nagano in 1998 with Dominik Hašek in net, Vladimir Rizucka as the captain and Ivan Hlinka as a coach.

Current Czech coach Alois Hadamczik, however, was equally unimpressed with Pavs.

"Quality goalie on one side and not other side was the difference," he told reporters after the game, according to the Globe & Mail's James Mirtle. "Such is sport."

 

Bodychecks from elsewhere

Thanks to the global reach of the Olympics, Pavelec's performance was a topic of conversation well outside the Czech Republic.

"Missing (Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tom°°) Vokoun these Olympics for the Czech Republic. Better than Pavelec, sure he would," said @Hoqueiros in Portuguese, who only sounds like Yoda because Google Translate is a pretty lousy but completely free tool.

"The Americans are scary good, but the frightening (expletive) is Pavelec," said Marlo Jaakola, writing in Finnish.

The ultimate diss, however, belonged to an English-speaking American, @95sports: "Reasons Why the USA is Better Than Canada #5438: Our worst city's protector: Robocop. Your worst city's protector: Ondrej Pavelec."

That's pretty harsh and pretty funny. If any city is capable of laughing at itself, it's Winnipeg.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2014 C4

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About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott.

Bartley appears every second Wednesday on CityTV’s Breakfast Television. His work has also appeared on CBC Radio and in publications such as National Geographic Traveler, explore magazine and Western Living.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives
Email: bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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