Wherever Joe Pavelski goes, championships seem to follow. The third-year NHL forward has experienced team and personal success at every level he’s played, earning himself a track record as a player who simply does what it takes to help his team win.
The Plover, Wis., native earned a state championship at Stevens Point Area Senior High, and captured the Clark Cup with the Waterloo Black Hawks in 2004 while being named USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year. He then led the University of Wisconsin to its sixth national championship in 2006 while leading the team in scoring.
Now, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound center is cutting his teeth with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, and it may only be a matter of time before he pads his already impressive résumé.
Pavelski is playing under first-year head coach Todd McLellan on a tough Sharks squad considered to be one of the favorites to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in a loaded Western Conference.
“I’ve had some great coaches along the way, played with some great players and been fortunate enough to have a great goalie on every team,” said Pavelski.
“I’m on another good team here and now it’s up to me and the guys to figure out how to win, and win in the postseason.”
Pavelski jumped on the fast track to NHL success during his rookie year of 2006-07, notching a goal in his first contest with San Jose after being promoted from the Worcester Sharks of the American Hockey League. He then solidified his status as a mainstay on San Jose’s roster by scoring in four of his first five NHL games.
“Any time you can do something special like that – scoring in your first game – it’s a great feeling,” said Pavelski. “The biggest thing is getting off to a good start. You’re a young guy, who just got called up from the American League, so you really want to make a good impression and score a few goals. It helped me earn a spot on the team and gave them the confidence to play me a little more.”
It’s no surprise that Pavelski and winning seem to go hand-in-hand. Not only does the center put up points, but he also does the little things coaches love.
Whether it’s winning faceoffs or just playing aggressive defense (he tied for 12th among NHL forwards with 59 blocked shots in 2007-08), Pavelski takes pride in possessing a well-rounded game.
“Those are the things you have to do every day to keep your spot in the lineup,” said Pavelski. “When you’re doing the little things, it gets you in the game and shows your teammates that you’re ready to play. Each of those aspects is part of the process.”
And what a lot of young hockey players often can’t grasp is that those “little things” frequently lead to big scoring chances on the other end of the ice. According to Pavelski, the best players in the NHL attained that status through an attention to detail on the ice.
“What people don’t realize is that some of the top players do the small things better than anyone else,” said Pavelski. “Those players complete their passes, which lead to goals, and they back-check hard to stop the opposition from scoring.
“If you want to be successful, you have to focus on all aspects of your game.”
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