STATELINE, Nev. — Joe Pavelski has had a thrilling, but difficult year since the 2018 American Century Championship.
He vied for a couple of championships, in golf and hockey, but fell just short each time and then recently the former San Jose Sharks captain was handed a more lucrative deal in free agency and was signed by the Dallas Stars.
He also witnessed a historic comeback during the NHL playoffs.
Pavelski sat in the ACC media center Wednesday afternoon and talked about all those things.
“(Leaving San Jose) was a decision that was extremely difficult for all of us, for myself, for my family,” Pavelski said. “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, it was — we’ll start the process.”
His heart was in San Jose and his departure to Dallas will break the hearts of many Sharks fans who watched him lead the team for the past 13 seasons, the past five as team captain.
He will never forget, however, the epic rally that helped the Sharks stay alive last year in the playoffs.
Pavelski was injured with 10 minutes left and the Sharks trailing 3-0. With Pavelski being treated for a head injury, his team rallied for four goals and eventually knocked off the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who had knocked them out of the playoffs the previous year.
“Everybody, when they bring up the playoffs, they go right to those 10 minutes and how special a night it was,” Pavelski said. “Anyone that was in that tank, the Shark Tank there, and the atmosphere that was created, it was — I just have fond memories about it.”
Pavelski returned in the Western Conference final but the eventual champion, the St. Louis Blues, ended the Sharks’ season.
A few months earlier, Pavelski was atop the ACC leaderboard heading into the final round but was overtaken by first-time winner, former quarterback and current NFL broadcaster Tony Romo.
He played in the final group with Romo and Mark Mulder, who was the three-time defending champ.
“I felt confident going into that day last year,” Pavelski said. “I hit the ball pretty good, but didn’t make a ton of putts. I didn’t hit it extremely close to have a few easy ones. But it definitely helps. You definitely learn something from it. And worse case, you know how much fun it is to be in that group. So it’s something to play for.”
Pavelski said through injuries and free agency that he hasn’t played a ton of golf, but he has been out recently trying to dial in his game.
He’ll be playing with fellow hockey stars, TJ Oshie of the Washington Capitals and new teammate, co-captain of the Stars Tyler Seguin, whom he is looking forward to getting to know a little better and to see “where his game is.”
Pavelski is a 15-to-1 favorite according to Caesars to win the tournament, tied for the sixth best odds out of the 93 players.
“It’s always fun seeing those odds come out and being a part of that and just a different side of things,” Pavelski said. “And 15-to-1, I like my chances, if I can hit the ball the way I did last year for sure.”