Last time I talked to Ondrej Pavelec at the end of training camp, he was worried about where his meals would come from because he'd be living on his own for the first time, and can't cook. Two months later, he still can't cook, but says he's eating OK. He has a kitchenette in his hotel suite, but is "scared to try to cook stuff at the hotel." I asked him what was in his refrigerator, and he said "two Gatorades and cheese. Mozzarella I think."
It being Thanksgiving, most people are headed someplace for a big meal. He said he may head over to the houses of some Czechs he knows in town. The Czechs on the team had family things going on. Hopefully he won't be eating just the cheese.
In Chicago, Pavelec lives with Slovak defenseman Boris Valabik. They found a two-bedroom townhouse together that he was excited about. Buying furniture was a two-day adventure. "One night I slept on the floor because I couldn't put together my bed," he said. "The next morning we put together everything. It's very nice."
He and Valabik stay close via phone. "We talk with each other all the time, maybe every two days. If they have a game, I call the next morning. If we have a game, he calls me. "
There's still lots to talk about with the townhouse. "I have to pay too, I don't know why," he joked. "He called me, 'did you pay for the phone this month?' I said uh yeah. 'Alright, thanks.' I told him 'send me the bill for cell phone, I pay it too, doesn't matter.'" Easy to be generous when you're pulling in an NHL salary.
At this point, we had to take a break from talking as he packed his equipment into bags that will be transported to Philips for tomorrow's game. The equipment [s]manager[/s] czar made sure of it.
Next, I asked him why he isn't wearing #31 in Atlanta, his chosen number in Chicago. "The first thing, I want #1," he said. "But in Chicago, they retired the number, Wendall Young. I can't have #1, so I took #31. And my birthday's the 31st of August. Here, the last two years when I played the exhibition games, they gave me #33, so I just kept #33, it's not a big deal. Next season or whatever, I'll try to change it to #31 maybe."
Pavelec knows he'll be sent to Chicago as soon as Lehtonen is ready, either next week or the week after. He seemed a little worried about his ice time there, now that Fred Brathwaite is playing so well. (Brathwaite will return to the team by Friday's game, having attended a funeral in Ottawa.)
I asked how it felt to have gotten Washington's coach Glen Hanlon fired after beating the Caps 5-1 last night. Pavelec hadn't heard the news until then, but said it's never just one game that does it. He heard the booing last night for sure.
Pavelec thinks he'll play on Saturday against Pittsburgh. It could end up being his last start of the season before he heads back.