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.
More unrest around the Czech hockey team: Ondrej Pavelec won’t play the tournament-opener against Sweden tomorrow. He’s not even dressing.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 11, 2014
“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.