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Another Czech surprise: Pavelec won’t dress for Olympic opener

Feb 11, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

Following a roster selection process rife with question marks, the Czech Olympic team made another surprising decision on Tuesday, announcing that Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec wouldn’t dress for the tournament opener against Sweden.

“I’m in the stands,” Pavelec, the lone NHL goalie on the Czech roster, said on Tuesday, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “I’m not sure. It’s the coach’s decision. But he told me I would play in the second game against Latvia.”

Jakub Kovar, a former Flyers draftee that’s been lights-out in the KHL this year, will get the start against the Swedes. He’ll be backed up by Alexander Salak, another KHL netminder that previously spent time with the Florida and Chicago organizations.

Pavelec sounded OK with the decision, having previously told 680 Radio Winnipeg he didn’t know what to expect when he got to Sochi.

“It’s the Olympics. Everyone wants to play,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. I don’t know. I’ll work hard in practice. The coaches have their reasons. Hopefully this works for us and we win.”

Previously, the Czech player selections were called into question when the likes of Calgary’s Jiri Hudler and Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata were passed over, while 42-year-old Petr Nedved made the cut.

Then, when St. Louis forward Vladimir Sobotka was ruled out with injury, the Czechs surprised again by naming Martin Erat as his replacement. Erat is in the midst of a disappointing campaign in Washington, in which he’s only scored one goal, been made a healthy scratch and demanded a trade.


PHT’s Pressing Olympic Questions: Will the Czechs regret their snubs?

Czech stunner: Hudler, Vrbata snubbed from Olympic roster

  1. kantnockdahustle89 - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    This is pretty baffling. I hope they fall on their face. Granted no matter who is in there Id prefer that. But also thinking these KHL guys are better than the NHL players is just plain stupid.

  2. mrpinkca - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    What’s amazing about this is how defensible a decision it is. Kovar is a bit behind Curtis Sanford in save percentages (8th and 5th best, respectively). Sanford’s career NHL save percentage is only a bit behind Pavelec’s (.904 and .906, respectively). If you consider that nobody blocks shots in the KHL, the Czech’s can make a reasonable claim to have picked the better goalie.

    I almost feel bad for Winnipeg.

  3. faceoff77 - Feb 11, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Pavelec is not even the best goalie on the Jets.

  4. channelguy - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    The BEST teams in the KHL are about as good as the Jets. Most of them are the equivalent of strong AHL teams. One would think that the Euros would have learned from the Russian experience in 2010, when they brought a lot of KHL players for political reasons and fell flat on their face, Pavelec isn’t a great goalie and I tend to agree that Montoya, given a chance to play, will prove better than he is. But Pavelec is an NHL goalie, not an AHL one, and these other Czech guys are likely AHL calibre.

  5. pavelfitzgerald - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    So by your logic the best teams in the KHL are better then 9 teams in the NHL or roughly 1/3 of the league? Well sir, your logic is flawed.

    There is a reason a guy like Curtis Sanford is one of the better goalies in the KHL when he was at best an average backup in the NHL. Or why a guy like Nigel Dawes is in the top 5 in KHL scoring yet was a 4th liner in the NHL who only stuck around for a few years as a marginal player & frequent healthy scratch

  6. elrock7 - Feb 11, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    What I find baffling is the fact that many people reading this post actually think the KHL is relevant anywhere but in Russia.

  7. LampyB - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Why does this team continue to buck the trend and make decisions counter to what makes logical sense? We’ll soon find out. My prediction is falling flat on their faces.

    Selecting Erat was a terrible decision, i laugh every time its mentioned.

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