WINNIPEG Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is in the middle of a controversy with officials from the Czech Republic national team over his availability for next month's IIHF world championships.

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WINNIPEG Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is in the middle of a controversy with officials from the Czech Republic national team over his availability for next month's IIHF world championships.

At his exit meetings with Jet coaches and management last weekend the 24-year-old native of Kladno told the club he was tired from a long season -- he appeared in a career-high 68 games and was hoping the team would throw up a stop sign at his participation at the worlds.

WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS archives
Pavelec made many saves for the Jets and was hoping they�d return the favour.

WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS archives Pavelec made many saves for the Jets and was hoping they�d return the favour.

But the Jets opted not to be his 'out' and told him they would support his decision whether he opted out of the championships or suited up and played.

Earlier this week Czech head coach Alois Hadamczik seemed to be under the impression the Jets were preventing Pavelec from playing, telling iDNES.cz -- the largest news company in the country -- that he was disappointed the star goaltender would not be available.

A story on the iDNES.cz website detailing his concerns, and loosely translated, quotes Hadamczik as saying:

"I really wish that Pavelec came because he is the cornerstone on which we build the national team. He's a great goalie. And it seems absurd to me because Winnipeg is not in the (Stanley Cup) playoffs. He's a young man who helped us in last year's championship."

Asked what he said to Pavelec, the coach is quoted as saying:

"That he can not go against the wishes of the club. It makes me sad and disappointed because seven World Cup games would not hurt him. Of course, I understand the psyche of the players, before they sign a long-term contract. It is about his future. Still, (I) tried to explain many things to him.

"I explained to him that the Czech Republic won last year's championship... that it would be disappointing if he did not come. I told him to even start the fight."

In other world championship news, the Jets have confirmed that Nik Antropov will not join Kazakhstan at the tournament. Antropov was slowed down the stretch by an injured knee and he may require surgery on his right hand which was damaged back in November.

-- with files from Gary Lawless

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca