-- The dramatic scene of Atlanta Thrashers
goalie Ondrej Pavelec
losing consciousness on the ice during the team's home opener on Friday and being rushed off the ice on a stretcher to the hospital looks like it might end in a diagnosis as simple as a fainting spell.
The Thrashers released a statement on Monday saying that Pavelec was released from the hospital and that preliminary results indicate that he had a neurocardiogenic syncope episode -- explained parenthetically as a "type of fainting spell" -- that caused the goalie to hit his head on the ice, which led to a concussion and subsequent loss of consciousness.
He was cleared to return home following a battery of tests on his heart and brain. As a precautionary measure, the statement said, Pavelec will continue to undergo testing on his heart and blood as well as genetic testing.
"If all goes as expected," the statement said, "he will be medically cleared following those results and will be available to resume playing at the conclusion of any symptoms from his concussion."
Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay
was asked if it seemed like Pavelec simply fainted.
"It sounds like it," he said. "Really, when it happened, nobody saw it. It was very hard to have a comment on it, but when I talked to him from Tampa [where the Thrashers played on Saturday], he really sounded good, very alert, was really upbeat. Obviously, he was wondering quite what happened. But his attitude sounded great on the phone and he watched our game, so good news so far."
So, perhaps it was a case of a 23-year-old goalie getting an adrenaline rush during the opening minutes of the team's home opener that caused him to faint?
"It's that home opener, it's been a big grind to get there, who knows," Ramsay said. "Sometimes you react to it. Let's hope that everything is normal and will continue to be normal and he'll be right back at it."
Ramsay did not say what grade Pavelec's concussion was, but added, "I don't think it was a bad one because he was watching the game that night, he was talking to me about it and was quite aware of what had gone on afterwards."
"Yeah, I talked to him yesterday, went out to dinner and he seemed fine and was joking around. He actually made some jokes, so that was good. After a serious thing like that, that's what you want from a guy. You don't know what to expect, but he seems to be doing pretty well. He's not able to drive right now, so it looks like I'm going to be his personal driver for a while. That's the bad news for me. But it's good." -- Boris Valabik
Ramsay refused to put a possible timetable on Pavelec's return. The Thrashers had recalled goalie Drew MacIntyre
from Chicago (AHL) to back up Chris Mason
on Saturday. On Monday, the Thrashers returned MacIntyre to Chicago and were expected to recall goalie Peter Mannino
to meet up with them for their three-game Western road trip that begins on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Following his release from the hospital, Pavelec had dinner on Sunday with teammate Boris Valabik
, who said the goalie was in good spirits.
"Yeah, I talked to him yesterday, went out to dinner and he seemed fine and was joking around," Valabik said. "He actually made some jokes, so that was good. After a serious thing like that, that's what you want from a guy. You don't know what to expect, but he seems to be doing pretty well. He's not able to drive right now, so it looks like I'm going to be his personal driver for a while. That's the bad news for me. But it's good."
Pavelec had his equipment cut open by emergency personnel on Friday, which Valabik said was among the goalie's biggest concerns.
"If the most you're worried about is your equipment being cut in half, that's good news. That's what he was most upset about, so that's the good news," Valabik said.
He added the scariest part for his friend -- Valabik is a Slovak and Pavelec is a Czech -- was waking up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and temporarily being unable to feel his legs.
"The thing he told me is he couldn't feel his legs, so that definitely scared him for sure, but then the feelings came back and he's feeling just like normal," Valabik said. "He's got a little bump on the back of his head from hitting the ice but at least they know it's a concussion and he seems to be doing well. … It was good to see him because that was a really, really tough moment."
Valabik said that both Pavelec's mother and girlfriend, who live in the Czech Republic, happen to be nurses and have expressed a desire to come visit him in Atlanta.
In terms of the on-ice situation for Atlanta, it could be all Chris Mason
all the time for the short-term. The goalie played the final 57:35 on Friday and then played all of Atlanta's game the next day in Tampa. On the coming road trip, the Thrashers play back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday in Anaheim and San Jose.
"Yeah, that's what I would kind of envision," Mason said. "A couple of years ago I played the last 34 or 35 games in a row [with St. Louis in 2008-09]. So I've had experience handling that kind of workload before. The big thing there is just managing your rest and making sure that you're not going crazy on the off days and things like that. It's sort of the beginning of the season and the players have to do it, so there's no reason goalies can't do it, too."