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Pavelec Czeching out of Liberec

Jets goalie rumoured coming back to Canada

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Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec may well be heading back to Winnipeg even though there's no team -- yet -- to play for.

Pavelec's 2012 lockout stint with the Liberec White Tigers of the Czech League is over, the website iSport.cz reported. His contract wasn't renewed by the team, which is nearing the conclusion of the international hockey break in Europe.

The goalie was quoted as saying, "I had a contract to Nov. 4, and now that I saw that the NHL season could be saved, I think I'll probably go back to Canada," in a translation.

But if the NHL season is eventually erased, Pavelec said he wasn't ruling out a return to Europe, making it sound like there are irons in the fire with Spartak, likely meaning the KHL team.

In Liberec, Pavelec's numbers were poor -- 4-10 record, an .896 save percentage and a 3.50 goals against average.

He played much better in the Karjala Cup in Finland last week, with a GAA of 0.50 as the Czech Republic won all three of its games.

If Pavelec is headed to Canada, it may afford him the opportunity for the face-to-face meeting he has yet to have with Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

The Jets, you'll recall, signed Pavelec to a new five-year contract in late June, before it was revealed that he had been convicted in his home country of drinking and driving.

When those details became public, he apologized to fans only in a statement and said he would clear the air with team management "soon."

Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Monday he had not yet heard if Pavelec was returning to Winnipeg.

He and the group of players skating regularly at the MTS Iceplex seemed a little more optimistic they might see Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom by week's end. Enstrom is believed to have left his Austrian team in Salzberg and was known to be thinking about a return to Winnipeg.

Enstrom could be part of the charity fundraising game the Jets and Winnipeg Police Service members are playing this Saturday afternoon at the Max Bell Centre.

"è"è"è

Ladd had some especially complimentary words for former Colorado Avalanche centre Joe Sakic, one of four inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night.

"I wore No. 19 all the way up through minor hockey and (he) was the reason why," Ladd said. "He was one of those guys who was just classy, was well-respected and played the game the right way. I looked up to him because of that."

Ladd said the current labour situation in the NHL should not take away from Monday's celebration.

"It's too bad for those guys," he said. "It shouldn't diminish what they accomplished. At the end of the day they're being recognized as some of the greatest hockey players of all time. Nobody should be able to take away from that."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 13, 2012 C4

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