Pavelec Returns to the Ice

October 19, 2010 by Tom Ferda 

Published at Inside Hockey Magazine  – October 2010

Originally from Detroit, Tom is a Los Angeles based writer covering the NHL. His NHL material has been published in several national magazines including The Hockey News (Canada) and USA Hockey Magazine as well as the New York Daily News, Washington Times, Men’s Book and 360 Thrashers Magazine. Contact Tom at tom@tomferda.com

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After a two-week absence from the team, Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec returned to the ice today for the first pavstime since the scary incident that occurred in the team’s opening game against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 8th.

Just a few minutes into that game while play was on the opposite end of the ice, Pavelec suddenly collapsed unconscious, slamming the back of his head to the ice. The goaltender laid motionless, the raucous crowd suddenly standing silent, while medical staff spent nearly 20 minutes tending to him and lifting him onto a stretcher into a nearby ambulance.

Today, the 23-year-old goaltender was back on the ice, participating in his first practice since that frightening ordeal and was in good spirits talking to the media after his 30-minute skate.

“I don’t remember anything after the National Anthem until I woke up in the back of the ambulance. That’s a pretty big window,” Pavelec said. “First time [I woke up] I didn’t know what was going on; nobody told me. I couldn’t feel my legs. When I got to the hospital I started to feel my legs and the doctors told me what happened. After the tests in the hospital they told me I was going to be fine.”

With the Czech player’s family overseas awaiting details after receiving initial calls from the team, Pavelec made sure to personally contact them as soon as he possible could.

“My girlfriend left one day before that happened. The game wasn’t on TV back home so nobody saw it, but [my family] got the phone calls right away,” said Pavelec. “When I woke up I called them right away back home to tell them I felt good. On the TV back home they only showed the film and didn’t report any other details concerning the incident. . . it was scary.”

After several days of tests and MRIs came back negative, Pavelec started focusing on returning to the ice. He suffered headaches for three or four days from the concussion said to be caused by his head hitting the ice. With this being his fourth concussion the team was monitoring him closely during the practice with trainers recording his vital signs and giving him the thumbs up.

Pavelec explained his history of concussions. “[Happened] three times already, this is my fourth one. . . hopefully this is the last one.”  As far as fainting on Oct. 8th, Pavelec went on to say, “that was the first time [fainting] and hopefully the last time.”

Asked if he or the doctors have set a timeline to get back him onto the ice at 100%, Pavelec replied, “I’m medically cleared right now so it will take a while to get back into game shape and I was on the ice for the first time just now so they didn’t say when I was going to be back. I’m just getting some shots and hopefully I’m going to be ready as soon as possible. I need a couple more practices.”

“I’m happy I’m back and that it was nothing serious,” he said smiling. “I think it happened at a right time at a game. Could you imagine if I was driving? It would be worse.  I want to put it behind me. It’s going to be almost two weeks. . . .Hopefully, it will never happen again.”

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