The air is still not completely clear between the Winnipeg Jets and goalie Ondrej Pavelec, judging by remarks from GM Kevin Cheveldayoff this morning.
In an interview with the Free Press, Cheveldayoff was asked if the air was now clear between them following Pavelec’s off-season drunk-driving conviction in his hometown of Kladno, Czech Republic.
"Obviously when he comes to Winnipeg, (at) the eventual coming to a (labour) agreement, we’ll continue to have conversations and go from there," Cheveldayoff said. "But obviously the big thing for us is that we want to have everybody in Winnipeg sooner than later."
That certainly doesn’t sound like there’s been any face-to-face meeting of the kind the Jets hoped to have had by now.
In their July 17 statement — a couple of days after Pavelec’s June 12 conviction had been discovered, and three weeks after the goalie had signed a five-year, $19.5-million contract with the team — they said expected to meet with Pavelec to discuss the matter.
"The organization was deeply disappointed to learn of this information and is fully aware of the seriousness of this matter," the Jets said in July. "We will determine our course of action once we have the chance to meet and discuss with Ondrej in person, which we expect to do at the earliest possible opportunity."
In the two months between then and the start of the lockout, that meeting did not take place in Winnipeg and with the NHL now in lockout mode, Pavalec has stayed in the Czech Republic and is playing in the league there in Liberec.
Cheveldayoff did say today that he has spoken with Pavelec.
"Certainly, I have talked to him since the issues," the GM said. "But the focus has been on the hopeful starting of the season. We spoke on the phone and the unfortunate side of how things have turned out with the situation we’re in, the logistics didn’t make that possible."
Pavelec, it’s worth noting, apologized for his actions in July.
"I’m disappointed in myself for this error in judgment," he said in statement issued through the team. "I’m thankful no one was injured as a result of my actions. I want to sincerely apologize to our fans, the Winnipeg Jets organization, and to my teammates for any embarrassment this has caused. I’m truly sorry for letting you all down. "
In his conversation with the Free Press today, Cheveldayoff also spoke about several other organizational matters, including one of the items that occupies much focus right now — that the Jets will have, as of today, six picks in the first three rounds of next summer’s NHL draft.
"It’s very significant," the GM said. "For us, six picks in essentially the top 90 is important for the long-term future of our franchise. It’s something we’re spending a lot of time on right now with scouting on the amatuer side. It’s full steam ahead there."