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Pavelec saw it coming

Goalie sensed weeks ago Jets would send him to AHL

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/10/2016 (1442 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Things are pretty mixed up in goalie Ondrej Pavelec’s world right now.

There he was between the pipes at the MTS IceplexTuesday morning, a Winnipeg Jets mask on his head but a grey-and-white Manitoba Moose practice jersey pulled over his bulky goalie equipment.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec steps onto the ice at the MTS Iceplex Tuesday to practise with his new team, the Manitoba Moose.</p>


Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec steps onto the ice at the MTS Iceplex Tuesday to practise with his new team, the Manitoba Moose.

He went to war last season with some of the guys he shared the ice with; others, he likely only knows to say hello.

The 29-year-old goalie says he doesn’t know how often he’ll play this season, and he hasn’t a clue if he’ll get the nod this weekend.

Indeed, Pavelec’s world has been turned upside down after he was cut by the Winnipeg Jets Monday and went through waivers unclaimed.

"The last 24 hours, I don’t know. It’s part of the business. I’ve been around for a while to know that this can happen. And it happened," said Pavelec, following his first practice with the Moose, the Jets’ American Hockey League affiliate.

His one-way, US$4.75-million contract remains intact.

"There’s really nothing I can say. I’m with the Moose now and we’ll see what happens next," said Pavelec. "I (haven’t played) in the AHL for a while, so I’m going to be honest, I don’t know what to expect at all.

"I don’t know what the plan is. It’s my job to play the game and get ready for the game, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready."

Pavelec said he figured the writing was on the wall when he joined Jets training camp after the World Cup of Hockey.

"I can kind of read between the lines," said the Czech-born goalie, who’d been the organization’s No.1 netminder since the club moved north from Atlanta in 2011.

Now, he’s a third-stringer behind Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson, who both made Winnipeg’s 23-man roster.

Pavelec got one pre-season start — a 31-save shutout performance against the Calgary Flames Oct. 2 — but didn’t play again, while Hutchinson got three starts, Hellebuyck got two and Eric Comrie, who will share Moose duties with Pavelec this season, was given one.

"We had a difficult year last year, we didn’t make the playoffs. Every time you didn’t make playoffs, you expect changes. And the change came," said Pavelec, 29, who will be a free agent July 1, 2017. "I don’t know if it made for hard decision for coaches or not. I just got ready for training camp and played the one game.

"I mean, right after I kind of knew what’s going to happen. I play one game, another goalie plays three or two. Like I said, I was a little bit surprised, but that’s pretty much it."

Pavelec, whose career record is 148-154-47, with a 2.85 goals-against average and .907 save percentage, was asked if he felt he was given the same chance as the two younger netminders to win a job with the big club.

"... You know, it’s a competition," he said. "It’s absolutely up to the coach or up to management what they want to do or what decisions they’re making and you have to respect that. And if it’s not fair or not, it’s not the point.

"What’s fair in life? It is what it is and I don’t think it matters now it was fair or not."

Defencemen Brian Strait and Julian Melchiori and veteran forward Anthony Peluso all cleared waivers and joined Pavelec on the Moose.

Pavelec had kept a faint hope another NHL club would take him.

"I was worried about it for 24 hours, of course I was hoping that somebody would pick me up," said Pavelec who played parts of three seasons with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, the affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers, and won a Calder Cup in 2008.

"Again, I’ve been around for a while. With my contract and this time of year, it’s pretty tough. I was 99 per cent sure I’d be sent down."

Andrew Copp, Nic Petan, Chase De Leo and Marko Dano were also reassigned to the Moose but were not subject to the waiver wire.

All participated in the Moose workout except Petan, who is battling a lower-body injury. Forward Brendan Lemieux was sent to the Moose earlier Tuesday and is also still banged up.

Winnipeg has 14 forwards, seven blue-liners and two goalies on its rosters and will submit a 23-player list to the NHL in time for the league’s 4 p.m. CT deadline.

The Jets, who did not skate Tuesday and participated in a team-building event instead, will open the regular season at home Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Moose, meanwhile, begin the AHL season with a pair of games in Iowa this weekend.

Manitoba head coach Pascal Vincent said he really likes his lineup.

"The difference today compared to last week is pretty big," he said. "I like the way the guys showed up very professional.

"I think no matter what decisions the Jets would have made, we would have had two good goalies. Pav is here, he’s going to bring his experience. I had a long conversation with him this morning, he’s a professional and he’s going to do what he has to do."

Vincent coached Pavelec with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for two seasons (2005-07).

"He helped me in juniors and I’m going to try and help him now," said Pavelec.

"I’ll work hard in practice and try to win the game. If you want to be back in the NHL, you have to show it in the AHL and that’s pretty much all I can do right now."

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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Updated on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 12:07 PM CDT: Adds new image.

3:23 PM: Adds comment from Pavelec.

4:19 PM: Adds video.

10:07 PM: typo fixed

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