Pavelski returns home following run to Stanley Cup Finals
Coming off the best season of his professional hockey
career, Plover native Joe Pavelski was back home last week to host his annual
In his 10th season in the National Hockey League (NHL),
Pavelski made his first NHL All-Star Game appearance and helped the San Jose
Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Finals this postseason, where they fell to the
Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in the best-of-seven series earlier this month.
Pavelski hosted the 8th annual Joe Pavelski Charity Golf
Tournament at the Stevens Point Country Club Thursday, June 23, where the
sold-out event raised money for the Stevens Point Area Youth Hockey
“This is the best turnout we’ve had,” said Pavelski. “So
it’s exciting to see everybody, with all the excitement of the playoffs.
“And the people that help put this event on have been
tremendous,” he said. “There are so many good people in youth hockey that
helped put this event on, that the credit goes to them.”
A former Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH)
standout and United States
Olympic men’s hockey team member in 2010 and 2014, Pavelski had a banner
2015-16 season for San Jose.
After the Sharks missed the playoffs last season for the
first time since the 2002-03 season, Pavelski was named the team’s captain for
the first time in his NHL career.
He went on to total 20 goals, 18 assists and 38 points in
the first half of the season, and was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game
in Nashville Jan. 31 for the first time.
As part of All-Star Weekend, Pavelski competed in the 2016
NHL Skills Competition Jan. 30, where he scored on one of his two attempts in
the Discover NHL Shootout, as the Western Conference lost 17-4 to the Eastern
Conference, while he finished third out of eight contestants in the Accuracy
Shooting Contest (14.088 seconds), behind John Tavares of the New York
Islanders (12.294 seconds) and Corey Perry of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (13.771
seconds), and ahead of a group that included Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh
Penguins (16.179) and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks (20.0).
“When I watched the All-Star Game growing up, one of the
events was that accuracy shooting, and that was the event I got to partake in,”
said Pavelski. “If I had to pick out everything that went on, that was what I
wanted, and it was pretty cool to be out there.”
For the Breakaway Challenge that evening, San Jose
defenseman and fellow All-Star Brent Burns decided to have his 4-year old son
Jagger and Pavelski’s 5-year old son Nathan take his place on the ice, as
Nathan left a drop pass that Jagger scored on when goalie Roberto Luongo was
tackled out of the way, and the youngsters got to skate through the handshake
line with all of the NHL All-Stars, before the performance finished second in
the competition among Twitter voters.
“He’s still pretty young, but he’s into the hockey and he’s
into the players,” said Pavelski of his son. “He’s learning more, he’s at that
age where he’s really figuring a few things out.
“So to have him there and be on the ice as a part of it was
pretty cool,” he said.
It was the first year of the NHL All-Star Game’s 3-on-3
format, and Pavelski had a goal and an assist in the Pacific Division
All-Stars’ 9-6 semifinal win over the Central Division, while the Pacific
Division went on to a 1-0 win over the Atlantic Division in the finals to win
the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
“That was just a cool event,” said Pavelski. “It was
different this year with the 3-on-3.
“And being able to go with Burns, it was great to have a
teammate and a familiar face there, and just have some fun together,” he said.
“And then all of the families, our kids are the same age, and it was just a lot
of things you wouldn’t really expect to do.”
In the second half of the regular season, Pavelski went on
to finish fifth in the NHL with 38 goals, sixth with 78 points and led the
league with 11 game-winning goals, while the Sharks ended up third in the
Pacific Division at 46-30-6, which was the sixth-best record out of the eight
teams that reached the Western Conference Playoffs.
“The whole season was good,” said Pavelski. “Leading up to
it, we learned a little bit throughout the year, who we were and what we wanted
“And then once the playoffs came, there were still some
questions,” he said. “But as we kept winning a few games, getting some big
goals, I think the confidence really grew throughout the team, and guys kept
Pavelski totaled five goals and one assist in five games as
San Jose beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 in the Western Conference
Quarterfinals, and then finished with four goals and three assists in seven
games to help the Sharks beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 in the Western
He then racked up four goals and five assists in six games
as San Jose beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals, to
send the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise
“It was one of those years that you felt you were just going
to have it the whole way until the end,” he said.
In the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins,
San Jose lost 3-2 in Game 1 and 2-1 in overtime in Game 2 to fall behind 2-0 in
the best-of-seven-series, before the Sharks won 3-2 in overtime in Game 3 to
make it 2-1.
However, Pittsburgh scored with 2:02 remaining in Game 4 to
close out a 3-1 win, and after Pavelski had a goal in San Jose’s 4-2 win in
Game 5, Pittsburgh scored with 1:02 left in Game 6 to wrap up a 3-1 win and the
Stanley Cup with a 4-2 series victory.
“The big stage was fun, with everything around, the media
and all the coverage,” said Pavelski. “You get to watch it in other sports, and
you get to watch it every year in the summer that we’ve been home.
“So to be one of the last couple of teams playing, it’s
pretty special,” he said. “You just always want that better outcome.”
During the playoffs, Pavelski was also one of eight
finalists chosen to compete in an online vote to appear on the cover of the EA
Sports NHL 17 video game.
He won matchups over Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings
and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers in the first two rounds to advance to
the finals against Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues, but it was
announced that Tarasenko won the vote in the final round during the NHL Awards
banquet Wednesday, June 22.
“That’s the type of thing that you don’t really expect,
ever,” said Pavelski. “So to have all of the following and the excitement with
it, it was pretty cool.
“And it would’ve been cool to be on a cover of an EA Sports
game,” he said. “I fell a little short, but the whole experience was fun.”
The next day, Pavelski hosted his golf tournament at the
Stevens Point Country Club, where a total of 37 foursomes participated in the
Dinner, live music, raffles and silent and live auctions
were held afterward behind Guu’s on Main, with the proceeds to benefit the
Stevens Point Area Youth Hockey Association.
“We had so many great memories growing up, just the
tournaments and all the fun weekends as a kid,” said Pavelski of youth hockey.
“It’s something that’s pretty special.
“So to be able to give back to that and hopefully help out a
little bit, it’s a cause I definitely like giving back to,” he said.
Over the last three seasons, Pavelski ranks second in the
NHL with 116 goals and second with 47 power-play goals, behind only Alexander
Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals in both categories.
During the playoffs this season, he led the NHL with 14
goals and four game-winning goals and was third with 23 points, while he was
appreciative of everybody who supported him from back home during the Sharks’
“With everyone sending text messages, the calls and
everything, when you’re going through it, you just keep doing things, and you just keep answering all of those calls,” said
Pavelski. “And at the end of it, you just can’t believe how much support there
“So it’s pretty special for everybody, and you feel that,”
he said. “You just always want a better ending for everybody involved.”