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As Veteran Forward Retires, Let’s Analyze His Impact With the Dallas Stars

Joe Pavelski‘s impact on the Dallas Stars has been apparent over the last five seasons, as the team has established itself as a contender. Dallas has used his leadership to grow its young core and leaned on him during some deep playoff runs. However, things appear to be changing as he spoke on his retirement Tuesday morning. Nevertheless, Joe Pavelski’s impact echoes through the locker room and resonates with those who will return.

Joe Pavelski’s Final Run as a Member of the Dallas Stars

The 39-year-old played 18 seasons in the NHL and became one of the most accomplished American skaters in league history. This season, he was looking to complete his Hall-of-Fame resume with his first Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, Dallas fell short in the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference Final for the second straight year, falling apart after holding a 2-1 series lead over the Oilers. Pavelski finished the year with 27 goals and 40 assists for 67 points in the regular season. He had just four points during the post-season.

Pavelski’s Arrival in Dallas

Pavelski signed with Dallas as a free agent in 2019 after 13 years with the San Jose Sharks. At the time, the Stars had just snapped a short playoff drought and were eliminated in the second round. In Pavelski’s first season, the Stars reached the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. It was the first of four playoff runs Pavelski would make with the team over five seasons as he hunted for that elusive Stanley Cup.

Joe Pavelski’s Impact on a Growing Team

Pavelski had just 31 points in that first year with the Stars but made his mark with 13 goals during the post-season. He followed that with at least 25 goals and 50 points in each of the next four seasons, including an 81-point campaign in 2021-22. That season helped him prove he could still perform at a high level and earn back-to-back one-year contract extensions. But Joe Pavelski’s impact in Dallas extends far beyond the ice. Teammates have consistently mentioned him as the influential voice and quintessential mentor in the locker room.

Head Coach Pete DeBoer told the media that Pavelski has always had that kind of influence in the locker room, even during their days in San Jose.

“I think that says more about Joe Pavelski than anything,” DeBoer said. “You had two former NHL captains in that room in Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, who are both Hall-of-Fame-calibre players. … To have two guys like that saying, ‘This is the guy,’ that probably says more about him and his character and what he stands for than anything anyone could say.”

He’s even taken the mentorship aspect of his role to another level, allowing emerging forward Wyatt Johnston and rookie Logan Stankoven to live with him and his family at their house during the early stages of their careers.

“There’s so much I’ve learned from him, and I can’t thank him and his family enough for what they’ve done for me,” Johnston said. “I know it’s not just me that he’s had a huge impact on; it’s the whole organization. It was awesome to play with him the last two years, and having a chance to live with him was amazing.”

Joe Pavelski’s Impact on the NHL

Some would say Pavelski never should have made it this far. He was a seventh-round pick by San Jose in 2003. Only 148 players drafted in the seventh round have played at least 100 games in the NHL. Pavelski eclipsed that easily and is one of only nine seventh-round picks to play 1,000 NHL games. He became a mainstay for San Jose Shark teams that contended for supremacy in the Western Conference and that continued in Dallas. Now that all appears said and done, he will finish his career with 1,332 regular-season games played, an additional 201 playoff games, and the sixth-most points and goals among U.S.-born skaters in NHL history. Quite the legacy to leave.

What Does the Future Have in Store

Pavelski’s contract with Dallas expired at the end of this season. He ended 2023-24 by telling reporters on Tuesday,

“This was it for me. It’s been known for a while. The plan is to not play next year.”

He added that he and his family plan to move back to his native Wisconsin. There have also been rumours of the veteran taking on a front-office role for Dallas to maintain a leadership presence around the team.

Main photo credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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