WINNIPEG — Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec apologized today for being caught drinking and driving during the off-season.
While home in the Czech Republic after the 2011-12 NHL season, Pavelec was in a car accident and was charged and convicted for the offence.
He’s back in Winnipeg today and spoke publicly for the first time since in the summer.
"I just said I’m sorry and I realize if you’re in this market, Winnipeg, you’re responsible for your own actions wherever you are," Pavelec said. "If you’re in Czech... you’re part of the team and you’re part of the organization. I learned a lot from that and like I said, I am sorry and it was a mistake.
"Now I’m going to do my best to make it up to the fans and make it up to the team.
"It was a mistake. I’m 100 per cent sure it’s never going to happen again."
The matter became more complicated because just weeks after the accident and conviction, he hadn’t told the team and he signed a new, five-year contract worth $19.5 million.
Pavelec said that in May, he ran into another vehicle but caused less than $5,000 damage, hurting no one. He said he was going about about 24 kilometres per hour.
"It was stupid, that’s for sure," Pavelec said. "I just went out, took a cab to get home and get some sleep. I couldn’t sleep so I went to get something to eat, jumped in the car and the accident happened."
The Jets goalie said he told only his parents after the accident and arrest.
"Of course, I was scared," he said. "It was the first time in that situation. I didn’t tell anybody. The only (people) who knew what happened was my parents. Those two people knew what happened.
"I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just scared about what I did. I didn’t tell anybody. I don’t really think about what could happen. It was a mistake.
"I should have been more forthcoming."
He said today that he has begun the process of mending fences with the Jets, including team co-owner Mark Chipman and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
"I arrived yestserday and I talked to Chevy at the airport," he said. "It was a good meeting. I’ll probably talk to Mark when he gets back from New York..
"(In the summer), we had a conference call. Mark was there, Chevy was there, me and my agent and of course they said they’re disappointed. We decided we’re going to keep private what they said."
Having played in Czech Republic and Finland during the lockout, Pavelec won’t be entirely stale when the NHL season starts next week.
Today, Pavelec addressed reporters today for 11 minutes, but did not skate with his teammates at the MTS Iceplex.
New faces at the Iceplex today include Dustin Byfuglien, Ron Hainsey, goalie Al Montoya and Mark Stuart, who was here earlier but went to play for Florida in the ECHL.