sports 1 week ago

Joe Pavelski on Sharks exit: 'Our heart definitely was with San Jose'

The Mercury News — By Cam Inman The Mercury News

July 11-- STATELINE, Nev.-Joe Pavelski is still missing a couple lower teeth. A couple others are damaged. The replacement process is still at least a few months out to repair the damage from using his mouth to score the San Jose Sharks' first goal in the final playoff push of his 13-year tenure.

"It's just part of it," Pavelski said nonchalantly about the price he's paid trying to bring San Jose its first Stanley Cup.

With free agency recently vaulting him to the Dallas Stars, Pavelski does have one more chance to experience relatively local love this weekend and vie for a championship-at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe.

He tied for third last year as Tony Romo dethroned three-time reigning champion Mark Mulder.

"At 15-to-1 (odds), I like my chances, if I can hit the ball the way I did last year," Pavelski said.

He and the Sharks liked each other so much for so many years that they had an amicable parting. The Sharks recently took out a full-page ad in this newspaper to thank Pavelski, and he's relayed his appreciation, too.

"What I'm going to miss the most is probably the bond I have with the fans there," Pavelski said. "You don't go somewhere for 13 years and not have strong relationships around the community. We've got life-long friends now outside of hockey.

"I'm also going to miss obviously skating out of that Sharks' head (in pregame introductions) and the playoff games in The Tank."

Pavelski, a Wisconsin native, fondly reflected on all the various homes he had while calling San Jose, well, home.

"The first year was in a hotel, the second year in an apartment, then we figured, 'Let's try buying a house,' " Pavelski said. "We lived in the first house on Hicks Avenue for five years, then the kid came and we just moved a mile down the street. The house was awesome, and so were the neighbors."

His 4,400-square-foot home in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood is on the market for $3.6 million. He's leaving it in his wake after signing a three-year, $21 million to relocate to Dallas.

"It was a decision that was extremely difficult, for all of us, myself and our family," Pavelski said.

"Our heart definitely was with San Jose. But when certain things didn't match up, we started the process, and what an interesting process it was for me going through (free agency) the first time."

Pavelski's final postseason in San Jose produced compelling drama. Yes, there was that teeth-rattling first goal against the Vegas Golden Knights. Then came the scary, Game 7 concussion and his teammates' improbable comeback.

Pavelski produced a goal and an assist in his return to spark a series-opening win over Colorado. "I still look at that goal, and coming back, it was emotionally," he recalled. "The adrenaline I had skating out in warmups was real, and scoring that goal is one I will cherish. It was special."

The Sharks' championship hopes eventually were extinguished in the Western Conference finals, and so was Pavelski's tenure.

"It's tough to leave a team when you believe they have a chance to win as well, but we found a great home in Dallas," Pavelski said.

His mangled mouth from that playoff-opening goal serves as a reminder of his grit as the Sharks' captain.

"I lost three (teeth), a fourth was sawed off at the gum, one cracked and one was loose. There were a good six affected," Pavelski said.

Did he save those teeth?

"I did for a day or two," he responed. "Some people said, 'You should have saved them.' "

If anything, they would have made for a heck of a ball marker on the Edgewood greens this weekend.

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