Joe Pavelski is going through a change of scenery, but Edgewood Tahoe has stayed the same for the NHL all-star right wing.
Pavelski, 35, signed a three-year deal this month with the Dallas Stars, ending his 13-year career with the San Jose Sharks.
Over the course of 963 games in the Teal and Blue, Pavelski ranked second in franchise history in goals (355), third in assists (406) and third in total points (761). The only Sharks above him are former teammates Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
The trio of Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau led San Jose to 10 playoff appearances, including the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015-16.
Pavelski’s departure from San Jose to the Lone Star State was challenging.
“It was a decision that was extremely difficult,” he said. “I think, for all of us, for myself, for my family. Just understanding when we got to that process that we probably have to start looking and be prepared in case it did get all the way to free agency. It was tough. And our heart definitely was with San Jose. But when certain things weren’t going to match up, as it was — we’ll start the process.”
Pavelski leaves a lasting legacy in San Jose, and his eyes are set on bringing a veteran presence to an up-and-coming Dallas Stars squad. The Stars advanced to the second round before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues.
“We knew if we were going to leave San Jose it had to be right,” he said. “We wanted to be able to go to a good team and a team that could be as competitive and we believe has a chance to win. And it’s tough to leave a team when you believe they have a chance to win as well, but I think we found a great home in Dallas.”
Pavelski was a part of the San Jose Sharks’ historic Game 7, 5-4 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference First Round this season. The Sharks stormed back with a four-goal third period capped-off by an overtime goal at the SAP Center.
Pavelski left the game during the Sharks’ comeback after slamming the back of his helmet on the ice after a cross check from Las Vegas center Cody Eakin. Team doctors placed eight staples into the Captain’s head to stop the bleeding.
Despite his absence, Pavelski has a vivid memory from the examination room. As the Sharks rallied, more staples kept coming.
“It was right around the 10-minute mark. And then we started putting the first staple in,” he said. “I think the first goal horn went off. I remember looking up at Razor, our trainer, and asking ‘Did we score?’ He gives me a little laugh, I guess, it’s 3-1.
“By the time the last one was probably going in, the horn was going off again, it was 3-2. And just after that I made my way over to the trainer’s office, I just remember sitting in the office chair, we had the little screen on there with the game. I remember just kind of taking a deep breath and looking over, it was 4-3 all of a sudden.”
Barclay Goodrow’s overtime goal sealed San Jose’s comeback to advance to the nex round.
“The guys kept battling to get the overtime goal and keep our season alive,” Pavelski said.
Away from the ice, Pavelski is ready to improve upon a solid start at the American Century Championship last season. He finished tied for third place with 66 points and was in the final pairing on Sunday with Tony Romo and Mark Mulder.
“I felt confident going into that day last year,” he said. “I hit the ball pretty good. Didn’t make a ton of putts. Didn’t hit it extremely close to have a few easy ones. But it definitely helps. You definitely learn something from it.”
Free agency has limited Pavelski’s practice time on the links. But he’s getting back into the swing of things. He stands at 15-1 odds, according to Caesars Entertainment.
“I’ve been able to play a little bit,” he said. “Free agency pushed me back a week or two and I took about 10, 11 days off. So last week or two I’ve gotten back out there, been hitting the club. The game’s in a decent spot you hope at the end of the day the touch is there and we can get that ball in the hole a little bit.”
Fellow Star teammate Tyler Seguin will join Pavelski on the ice and on the course, as well. Seguin makes his first ACC appearance this season paired with Pavelski and Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie.
Both players will look to get familiar with each other.
“I’m Excited to spend time with him,” Pavelski said. “Maybe get to know him a little more. Excited to see where his game’s at. His first year, I remember my first year coming out here, just the fun it was and the experience. The first tee jitters, they’re real.”
Pavelski starts a new journey with Dallas this coming October, but he’s looking forward to soaking in the Tahoe sun for now.
“Playing here definitely helps,” You definitely learn from each time you play. And worse case, you know how much fun it is. So it’s something to play for.”
— Isaiah Burrows