By Gary Lawless and Ed Tait
Dust off those jerseys and noisemakers, Winnipeg Jets fans, and circle Jan. 19 on your calendar.
National Hockey League sources have told the Free Press the Jets will open their season Saturday, Jan. 19 at the MTS Centre against the Ottawa Senators, with a 1:30 p.m. puck drop.
In other Jets news, goalie Ondrej Pavelec arrived in Winnipeg late Tuesday and will be at practice at the MTS Iceplex on Wednesday. He is not expected to skate.
Pavelec was charged with drunk driving and convicted this summer in his native Czech Republic prior to signing a new five-year contract worth $19.5 million.
The deal was to have paid Pavelec $3.25 million in 2012-13, and $3.5 million, $3.75 million, $4.25 million and $4.75 million in the following years of the contract.
Pavelec withheld his arrest and conviction from the Jets during contract negotiations and the news only broke after a deal had been brokered.
This will be the first time the goalie will face the Winnipeg media in the aftermath of the summer scandal.
The rest of the 48-game schedule remains somewhat fluid at this point – it should be released by Friday or no later than the weekend – but the Jets’ opener is locked in and written in ink with the date against the Senators. Interestingly, a date with the Sens, albeit with a 1 p.m. start, was already on the initial schedule released by the league last year.
This will be the second straight season the Jets will open their season at home, having relaunched in October 2011 with a historic game against the Montreal Canadiens in what was a 5-1 loss.