Joe Pavelski

Pavelski recalls fond memories of Sharks, iconic teammates

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It always is special when Joe Pavelski comes back to San Jose.

Selected in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Draft by the Sharks, the unheralded Pavelski rose to captain of the team from 2015 to 2019, leading them to their lone Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2016, also becoming one of the best players of his draft class.

Already the greatest goalscorer of his draft class with 473, he’s just six points away from overtaking Eric Staal’s 1,063 for most points.

Whenever Pavelski breaks Staal’s mark, however, it almost certainly is going to be in another uniform.

In the summer of 2019, in what has become perhaps the most reviled decision in franchise history, the Sharks, coming off a 2019 Western Conference Finals defeat, let Pavelski, then 34, sign with the Dallas Stars. Since then, the Sharks have missed the playoffs in every season, and Pavelski has kept producing and winning, leading the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final and 2023 Western Conference Finals.

The Stars are among the favorites once again to win the Stanley Cup. The Sharks? Well, you know.

Dallas was just in town on Mar. 5 to take on the Sharks, beating them in a 7-6 overtime thriller. San Jose Hockey Now caught up with Pavelski for a brief but illuminating one-on-one interview.

Sheng Peng: How tough is it to see where the Sharks are in the standings, especially this year, where it’s really bottomed out?

Joe Pavelski: It's been such a special place here. The fans over the last 20 years, whatever it was. It's been a big run.

Just to see the stadium, not quite filled up like it used to be, it's definitely a lot different playing out there.

SP: Speaking of that, the Stars’ recent game at SAP Center, at 10,070, was the lowest-attended Sharks game of this season. How hard is that to see?

JP: I remember a lot of special times.

I'm not on the business side of it. But you know what it was once. It was special with the fans. Everyone coming into the Shark Tank knew it was gonna be a tough night, it was gonna be a great atmosphere, and that's what you came to expect.

SP: I know you and the Stars were here for a couple days after you played the Sharks. Where did you take the boys, what’s still some of the best of the Bay Area for you?

JP: I’ve given people many trips to San Fran. Get some Chris Combos [at La Villa Deli in Willow Glen].

[Golfing at] Cordevalle.

SP: Was there a moment when you didn’t feel like a San Jose Shark anymore? Like I feel like a Dallas Star now?

JP: I wouldn't necessarily say I feel that way.

Just always tried to be a good teammate. You're always trying to hold yourself to a high standard and you feel like it can go away in a hurry. So you're always trying to improve yourself and work and just keep trying to get better.

Yeah, I feel connected to both of them. Really enjoyed my time in Dallas. Feel a part of it. So it's been great.

But yeah, great connection with the fan base here and the organization. Feel a part of it, for sure.

SP: Joe Thornton jersey retirement next year, thoughts?

JP: Aww, it'll be incredible. It's so well-deserved. Very excited for that night. He means a lot to a lot of people. You saw how special Patty's was. It'll be pretty cool. Look forward to it.

SP: Did you see Jumbo this week? He was around.

JP: Yeah, we talked a little bit.

SP: If the timing works out, which I know is unlikely in season, any chance you might show up for Jumbo’s jersey retirement?

JP: Yeah, if it works out.

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