Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pavelec convicted of DUI in Czech Republic

'Not Ondrej's fault,' says goalie's manager

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ONDREJ Pavelec has been convicted of drunk driving following a car accident in his native Czech Republic -- just three weeks after the Winnipeg Jets signed the 24-year-old goaltender to a new five-year, multi-million contract.

Czech media outlet Nova Sport first reported the news and -- according to a translation provided by a certified Czech translator -- Pavelec crashed his BMW M6 at an intersection in his hometown of Kladno, rear-ending another driver who had stopped.

No injuries were reported but Pavelec had a blood-alcohol level of .20, which is 2.5 times more than the legal limit of .08 in Canada. It's even greater in the Czech Republic, where their limit is zero.

Pavelec was given a six-month suspended sentence and has been ordered not to drive for a period of 20 months. The report quotes the judge in the case as saying the 20-month driving ban applies only in the Czech Republic.

The accident took place on May 26th -- about a month before Pavelec signed a new contract with the Jets that will pay him an average of $3.9 million per season. Pavelec's agent did not respond to requests for a comment on the report, although his 'manager' Josef Machala, told TV Nova in the Czech Republic via a telephone interview: "It was not Ondrej's fault. And anyway, why should I comment on it?"

Pavelec could not be reached for comment and his agent, Allan Walsh, sent an email stating he had no comment.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

"At this time True North Sports & Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club are aware of various, yet still inconsistent, Internet reports pertaining to Ondrej Pavelec. We, as an organization, are attempting to gather more information and until such time as we are comfortable and have a full understanding of the situation, we will not be issuing any further comment."

Pavelec is coming off a year in which he played in a career-high 68 games, posting a 29-28-9 record with a 2.91 goals against average and .906 save percentage. Given the Jets defensive woes -- they finished 26th in goals against -- he became an instant fan favourite by keeping the club in many games in which they were outshot substantially.

Ironically, the news on Pavelec comes one week before defenceman Dustin Byfuglien is scheduled to go on trial in Minneapolis on impaired boating charges stemming from an arrest last August. The week-long jury trial is set to begin next Monday and several witnesses are expected to testify, including the arresting officer and a drug-recognition officer, who will provide insight into what they believe led to Byfuglien's alleged impairment. Byfuglien's lawyer has previously indicated he will likely testify in his own defence, along with others who were on the boat with him that night.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2012 C1

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