The ’12 Days of Christmas’ is a classic holiday song first published in its current form in 1908. In a nod to the classic carol, join The Hockey Writers as we count down the 12 Days of Hockeymas. Each day, we will provide you with a piece of hockey history as we eagerly await the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.
Today, we’ll look at the legacy of former captain Joe Pavelski and his impact on the San Jose Sharks. All-time for the organization, Pavelski ranks fourth in games played, second in goals, and game-winning goals, third in assists, and third in points.
On the final day of the 2003 NHL Draft, the Sharks decided to trade a 2004 sixth-round selection in order to trade into the seventh round to select a center from the Waterloo Black Hawks, Pavelski. After another year in the USHL, he went to the University of Wisconsin for two more years. He had a stellar sophomore season before transitioning to the professional level.
In 16 AHL games with the Worcester Sharks, he had 26 points and earned an NHL call-up. He put up 14 goals and 14 assists in 46 games in his 2006-07 debut season, which was impressive. The next season, he had 19 goals and 40 points in a full NHL season. As a mainstay on the roster, he earned himself the nickname “Little Joe,” contrasting the nickname of star “Jumbo” Joe Thornton.
The Big Pavelski
Since his third NHL season, Pavelski would have scored a minimum of 20 goals in every season with the Sharks, if not for the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. In that time, he also has five 30-goal seasons. Pavelski was a large part of the regular-season success the Sharks prided themselves upon. With Pavelski on the roster, the Sharks only missed the playoffs once. From 2010-11 to his final season in San Jose, he scored a minimum of 60 points in every year, excluding the shortened season.
His peak performance was the 2013-14 season, where he had 41 goals and 79 points, both career-highs. Pavelski is also well known as an incredible playoff performer. In only his second playoff run, he had nine points in 13 games en route to the Sharks losing in the second round against the Dallas Stars in 2008.
He began taking on a new nickname, “The Big Pavelski.” This is in large part thanks to his consistency and ability to score clutch goals. His best method of scoring goals being deflections, and he is likely still the best NHL player at redirecting shots to score.
After a disappointing 2014-15 season for the Sharks, Pavelski was given the captaincy of the club. His leadership helped greatly, and the Sharks had an excellent 2015-16 season, and he scored 38 goals and 78 points. In the playoffs he was just as impressive, recording 14 goals and 23 points in 24 games, and helping the Sharks reach their first Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the club lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
At the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the United States gave the “C” patch to Pavelski. This earned him another nickname, “Captain America.” Pavelski meant so much to his team, best seen in the 2018-19 playoffs. After his injury in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Sharks rallied and eventually defeated Vegas, erasing a three-goal lead in the process. Pavelski returned in Game 7 of the following series, and had a goal and assist against the Colorado Avalanche.
Unfortunately, Pavelski’s time with the Sharks came to a close. He did recently hit some important milestones in his career, though. He played his 1,000th NHL game with the Dallas Stars. In the playoffs, he broke the record for most playoff goals by a US-born player.
Pavelski is a franchise legend. He was an incredible leader and player, and helped the Sharks incredibly on and off the ice. No. 8 will always be an important and iconic number in San Jose.