Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Signing Pav, completing stadium top of mind

Jets need to lock up goalie: Bombers play waiting game

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Monday morning after a week away and the inbox was full with all kinds of notes, messages and column suggestions.

So here' a quick and dirty attempt at getting caught up on what's been happening and what could be coming soon to a Winnipeg rink or stadium near you.

Pav's plight: Re-signing goalie Ondrej Pavelec is priority No. 1 for the Winnipeg Jets and while a deal is expected to get done there has been little progress to report so far.

Pavelec is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and the player's agent, Alan Walsh, aren't talking with the media about the negotiations. Sources say the sides are still in the feeling-out process at this point.

One tidbit that came our way is the possibility of Pavelec being wooed by a KHL team expected to relocate to Prague in his native Czech Republic for the 2012-13 season. A team in Poprad, Slovakia is allegedly relocating to Prague and there is also talk of a club in Karlovy Vary joining the league.

Pavelec, who has played for his country in the last two world championships and the 2010 Olympics and is a household name in the Czech Republic, would be highly sought after if a franchise is finalized. Right now it's just rumour and speculation but could prove to be a negotiating factor going forward.

Keep your parking spot: Garth Buchko and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will ultimately have the final word on this and we can expect an update sometime next week, but the team will not be in its new stadium for its home opener on July 26.

Buchko is waiting for a report from contractors that is expected to be tabled on Friday, but the news is leaking out all over the place. Construction of Investors Group Field is way behind schedule and there's a chance the Bombers will only play a limited number of games at the new park with the bulk of home dates being played at the old Polo Park stadium.

Contractors have complained about delays in getting around the construction site, said a source close to the project, claiming it can take excessive amounts of time to transfer workers and equipment from the main access point to areas where work is being done.

Weather has also been a factor and a drive by the new stadium leaves the impression they're not close to completion.

When the Bombers get into the stadium is important to a degree but the big-picture thinking must centre around getting the job done properly so Winnipeg football fans can enjoy the experience at the new park for years to come.

The Bombers painted themselves into a corner by saying the stadium would be absolutely ready for opening day but they can be forgiven for their lack of experience in project management. Getting the due date wrong is one thing but messing up the project details is another. Let's reserve our judgment until we get into the park.

Hall of Famer: Manitoba and Alberta sports hall of hame inductee Glenn McWhinney passed away last week at the age of 81.

McWhinney appeared in two Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos, winning once. The Winnipeg-born wingback then moved to the Blue Bombers and in 1955 was named the CFL's most valuable Canadian. The next season he suffered a broken neck playing for the Bombers. The injury ended his career.

"My dad impacted so many people. He customized his relationships to each person he met. He treated everyone special," said his son, Jeff McWhinney. "He loved his Esks and he loved his Bombers. He was thrilled to be back home. Winnipeg meant everything to him."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2012 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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