After a career plagued by injuries, recent releases from Winnipeg and the New York Rangers, and failing to be signed by an NHL club, Ondřej Pavelec today announced his retirement from hockey, a surprising development due to only being 31 years old.
Pavelec, the 41st pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2005 NHL Draft, first found success in the AHL, winning the 2008 Calder Cup with the Chicago Wolves before being called up. Pavelec spent all but one season of his career with the Thrashers franchise, even after their move to Winnipeg, but saw his playing time reduced by the Jets and was signed by the New York Rangers in 2017, only spending 19 games in New York backing up Henrik Lundqvist before being released. Pavelec retires having played 398 NHL games, amassing a 156-167-48 record, with a career 2.88 GAA, .907 save percentage, and 18 career shutouts.
Pavelec first joined the Narodnitym in the junior ranks, starting at the World Junior Championships in 2006 and 2007 while still playing in Cape Breton of the QMJHL. He first joined the senior team in 2009, playing as a reserve at the 2010 Olympics and one game at the World Championship, where he won Gold. He became the full-time backstop at the 2011 Worlds, leading the Czechs to Bronze, and would play at two more World Championships (2013, 2015), one more Olympic Games (2014) and the 2016 World Cup Of Hockey before his retirement.
Despite his numerous international achievements throughout his career, Pavelec surprisingly held the IHLC just once, winning at the Karjala Tournament on the 2012-13 Euro Hockey Tour. We wish Ondřej and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!