Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pavelec begs forgiveness

'It was stupid,' goalie says of summer DUI conviction

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Ondrej PAVELEC said he was sorry for drinking and driving and Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who finally had his face-to-face meeting with the goalie, seemed ready to forgive on Wednesday.

Pavelec, who signed a five-year, $19.5-million contract with the team only a few days before it came to light that Pavelec and had been caught drinking and driving by police in Czech Republic, returned to the city this week for the first time since the spring and summer affair.

When he arrived, he met with Cheveldayoff at the airport, just before the GM took off for New York and the ratification meetings for the new collective bargaining agreement.

"We met for quite a length of time and we discussed a variety of topics of which we'll keep the details, discussions among ourselves," Cheveldayoff said Wednesday. "From an organizational standpoint I reiterated to him the seriousness of what he did and how we view that. We certainly don't condone those types of actions."

Cheveldayoff saw the matter as one with consequences -- Pavelec received a fine and has lost his driver's license -- and also one about tough love within a family.

"If someone made an indiscretion, certainly you would deal with it and there would be consequences and with this there are obviously consequences from a standpoint of the driving," the GM said. "You hopefully learn from it, grow from it and you would support one of your family members in those regards and that's how I basically intimated it to him, that we don't condone what had happened but we're going help him grow from this and hopefully there can be some good that can come out of it."

The GM also dismissed any suggestion he or the Jets were somehow manipulated in the contract matter.

"A hypothetical," was what Cheveldayoff called that question.

Pavelec told reporters Wednesday that he had taken a cab home on the night in question, but then couldn't sleep and decided to go out for some food.

He got in his car and hit another vehicle, he said, at a speed of "15 miles per hour." He said the damage was less than $5,000 and that most importantly, nobody was hurt.

"It was stupid, that's for sure," Pavelec said.

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 were 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."

The Jets goalie said he now has a better understanding of the responsibilities that go with his position in the organization.

"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."

During the lockout, Pavelec played for a team in the Czech league, then six games in Finland. His numbers for Liberec were nearly terrible, and while with Pelicans in Finland, his record wasn't very good (2-4) but his average and save percentage were better.

"I always think it's not about the stats," he said. "I enjoyed the time in Europe. It was fun to play in the Czech league but the motivation wasn't there."

He said he thinks he's ready for play in the NHL, that the action he saw in Europe was important practice.

Maybe the only wild card remaining is how fans will treat him. He said Wednesday he's expecting to hear about his mistake.

"I'm pretty sure," he said. "Like I said, I took full responsibility for my actions and this is a part of it. I know I upset a lot of people and I'm pretty sure I'm going to hear it for a long time."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2013 D2

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