Archive for January 9th, 2013

Pavelec, Byfuglien, Hainsey all arrive on the scene

- January 9th, 2013

Busy day in the land of the Winnipeg Jets and tough to decide where to begin, so we’ll simply start with the first subject of the day to speak, goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

As his 11 of his teammates hit the ice at MTS Iceplex, Pavelec stood in front of a barrage of reporters, speaking for the first time since being convicted for driving under the influence in the Czech Republic.

Pavelec spoke for 11 minutes and handled himself well, pointing out that what he did was stupid and that he was fortunate that nobody — himself or anyone else — was hurt when he crashed his car.

The star netminder also pointed out that he was scared after what happened, which is why he only told his parents about it.

Pavelec met with Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff at the airport on Tuesday night and touched on a variety of subjects.

Pavelec isn’t concerned about the subpar numbers he posted during his stints in the Czech Republic and Finland during the lockout.

He’s not worried about the weight of a contract extension either.

“Of course when you sign a big contract it’s a lot of pressure on you. But I feel the same pressure last year. When you’re on the ice… it doesn’t matter how much you make. You want to win the game no matter what. I kind of feel the same pressure like last year.”

I personally wondered if an incident like this might lead Pavelec to be a little more reserved in his meetings with the media, but he showed remorse and took responsibility of his actions, handling a difficult situation about as well as he possibly could.

Pavelec was asked what he would say to the kids who look up to him?

“I’m sorry. I realize if you’re in this market and you’re a pro athlete you’re responsible for your own action, wherever you are, if you’re in the Czech, Brazil, or somewhere else. You’re part of the team and the organization. I learned a lot from that. I’m going to do my best to make it up to the fans and the team.

“I’m 100 per cent sure it’s never going to happen again.”

Next up on the docket was the arrival of defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, who appears to be in pretty good physical condition and was flying out on the ice, sporting  a neon green stick that he’s hoping to use once the season opens.

Byfuglien didn’t reveal what he weighed and to be perfectly honest, I don’t blame him one bit. He did his job by showing up in shape and now the focus should be on how he plays on the ice — ultimately it’s his performance that matters the most.

The two-time All-star spoke for just over six minutes and is excited for what the season might have in store.

Defenceman Ron Hainsey was also on the ice with his teammates for the first time and he fielded questions about the lockout and about where his focus might be.

Hainsey made it clear he was ready for the season to begin and his conditioning wasn’t going to be an issue, as he’s been skating on his own in Connecticut when he wasn’t in the boardroom representing the NHLPA bargaining committee.

There have been plenty of suggestions that some fans feel anger toward Hainsey and are planning to boo him when the Jets hit the ice.

Hainsey is ready for whatever comes his way and made it clear the focus from now on has to be on growing the NHL game and putting the best product on the ice in order to put the lockout in the rearview mirror.

The fourth and final player to speak Wednesday was new backup goalie Al Montoya, who said he was only concerned about winning and not sure how many starts he’d be counted on to make or how much he wanted to play.

When I asked him about what makes a successful tandem, he said it’s important for goalies to push each other.

Sounds like the right attitude to have and with a condensed schedule, Montoya needs to show he can stay sharp as there should be enough starts to go around for both men.

Cheveldayoff also had a 20-minute conference call to cap the day, speaking to reporters after attending the NHL board of governors meeting — where the ratification of the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement by the unanimous 30-0 vote.

The GM said the Jets would have a small camp, but wasn’t ready to provide a list of players who would be recalled from the St. John’s IceCaps. (UPDATE: still no offiical word from Jets but Robin Short of the St. John’s Telegram is reporting that it will include the five players I had mentioned previously (Burmistrov, Spencer Machacek, Derek Meech, Paul Postma and Zach Redmond), along with forward Maxime Macenauer, a checker who was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks last season. For the time being, Meech remains in St. John’s as he’s nursing a groin injury, but he should join the camp once he’s cleared by doctors.)

We’re on the record as saying it’s going to be around 25 and it could include a couple more, since Cheveldayoff said it would be a fluid situation at the beginning.

Cheveldayoff said he expects that forward Alex Burmistrov will be ready for camp after sitting out since December with an injury and that defenceman Zach Bogosian is making progress after off-season wrist surgery.

He also noted that it’s too early to tell just how the new CBA would affect the Jets and their spending budget moving forward.

It’s another expansive Jets package in the Thursday paper and online at www.winnipegsun.com.

Columnist Paul Friesen handled the Pavelec column, along with a sidebar on new backup goalie Al Montoya and another short piece on a Twitter shot that captain Andrew Ladd (via retweet from the fakeClaude Noel account) directed at Evander Kane that featured a doctored photo of the Jets head coach calling Kane on the cash phone and telling him to get on a plane for Winnipeg.

It sounds like Kane is scheduled to arrive in the city on Thursday and should hit the ice on Friday.

I handled the arrival of Byfuglien, did another piece off of Cheveldayoff’s availability and a sidebar on Hainsey.

Colleague Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun also confirmed that the Jets will indeed host the Ottawa Senators at MTS Centre to open the 2013 season on Jan. 19 in what is expected to be the first game of an All-Canadian triple header to run on Hockey Night in Canada.

Should be an interesting match-up to open the campaign.

Lots of folks have been asking and it sounds like the new schedule won’t be released until Saturday, after the NHLPA ratifies the new CBA.

Once everything is official, physicals will be held on Sunday, with the first on-ice session possibly pushed to Monday.

The Jets are moving their informal skate to the MTS Centre on Thursday, with several players (including Blake Wheeler) set to join the group.