LOS ANGELES, Calif. — It’s strange to hear Joe Pavelski refer to the San Jose Sharks as “they.”
For Sharks fans, a tough season will get tougher this Saturday when the beloved ex-captain visits SAP Center for the first time as a member of the Dallas Stars.
I caught up with Pavelski in Los Angeles, where the Stars are beginning their West Coast road trip. Pavelski talked about where his game is at, San Jose’s struggles, Logan Couture being named Sharks captain, whether or not Doug Wilson gave him a contract offer and Grandma Pavelski.
Sheng Peng: Can you talk about your general anticipation, coming back to California and San Jose?
Joe Pavelski: Just looking forward to getting back there and seeing some people.
It’ll be fun to go back there, get back in the SAP Center with all the fans. Just kind of see it, be around it. It’s a place that’s pretty special in our hearts. For a first trip back, it should be fun.
SP: Will Nathan and Sarah make it?
JP: No, we got some things going on back home. They won’t be making this one. I thought they might, looks like they got another hockey game they got to be at.
SP: What do you think of your year so far? Maybe the production isn’t quite where you want it, but obviously, you’ve helped the team in other areas.
JP: It’s been a little bit of an adjustment period. Definitely production, on a personal level, isn’t there. But it hasn’t felt like, I don’t know what the word is ... [it’s not] eating at me. I feel like I’ve played some good hockey along the way.
The team’s been winning. The biggest thing for us is we got off to that bad start. Everyone had to dig in, dig ourselves out of the hole, which we did. Now we’re right back in the thick of it. We’re a couple points out of second, couple points out of ninth. That’s just how tight it is.
SP: Mirroring the Stars’ start, the Sharks got off to a rough start too. What are your thoughts from afar, seeing that and Peter DeBoer getting fired?
JP: Definitely monitoring, talk to the guys a little bit. See how things are going.
We lived it here with a tough start. They’re the same way, they put together a lot of wins for a stretch. Then they fell into another little hole.
They’re a desperate team right now. Still tons of skill, character over there.
I’d love to still see Pete there. The relationship I had with him, I know what he did for that group of guys. It’s tough to see him go that way. But things happen. Bougs, Reech, and Roy, I’m sure things are going good.
It is what it is. It’s so tough to tell from year to year what’s going to happen.
They got caught on the backside right now, but are they out of it? By no means, no. They’re a dangerous team. They go on a run, start believing, who knows what can happen?
SP: Speaking of guys that you keep in touch with, what did you think of Logan Couture being named captain?
JP: I thought it was great. He was a guy you never had to worry about. As a teammate, that was the nice thing, you were never worried if he was going to show up, if he was going to play hard, if he was going to play the right way.
Deservedly so, he was named. I can tell, he’s competed all year, he’s produced. Tough season with the start, but he’s handled it well.
SP: When you say he was someone that you never had to worry about, you mean from the very beginning when he came into the league as a 20-year-old?
JP: Yeah, really. He would show up and play. He always been known as a gamer. Everybody sees that now with the production he has in the playoffs. It hasn’t been a one-season thing. It’s every year, you can count on him to produce, perform in those situations.
SP: A question about contract negotiations over the summer: Did the Sharks ever give you a concrete contract offer, was it ever close?
JP: Uh yeah, I’m not going to get into that. That’s old news.
SP: Fair enough. Lastly, what did Grandma Pavelski say when you told her you were going to Dallas?
JP: Same. Everybody kind of ... it was a gradual process. There wasn’t a lot going on. Once you get to free agency, you understand it gets even more real. She’s excited. She’s excited for us.
I talked to her yesterday, she’s doing great. She’s got a lot of energy. She loved watching the outdoor game. Loved watching the [1,000 games played] ceremony we had the other night. She’s just one of the best grandmas I could ask for.