A Born Leader

Tim Lucarelli

2011-04-17

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As the NHL season came to a close, fans were captivated yet again by Joe Pavelski. "Little Joe" or "The Big Pavelski" as he is sometimes referred to, has displayed an elite skillset to complement his clutch performances. It took him some time to get going, but once he did, Pavelski strung together a career-high 66 points, which was two more than superstar teammate Dany Heatley. And Pavelski did it in six fewer games.

 

If there's anything we know about Joe Pavelski, it's that he is a born winner. In 2001-02, Pavelski was wrapping up his senior year of high school and his Stevens Point High Panthers won the Wisconsin state championship by a score of 2-0. Pavelski scored the game winner and added an assist.

 

Pavelski would go on to skate in the USHL for the Waterloo Blackhawks, where he would post an impressive 69 points in 60 games. It was at this time that the San Jose Sharks decided to roll the dice and selected Joe in the seventh round of the 2003 entry draft, number 205 overall.  Pavelski would follow up that season with a Clark Cup championship. The following season, Pavelski joined the Wisconsin Badgers for two years, where he led the team in scoring each season and added an NCAA championship to his resume. This time, the championship game was decided 2-1 score and Pavelski made his way into the dressing room with two assists.

 

Moving forward, Pavelski joined the Worcester Sharks, but San Jose could not hold him back. Little Joe would score 26 points in only 16 games and it was clear he was ready to show what he could do. In his first NHL game, Pavelski scored a goal. I had the privilege of watching Pavelski's fifth NHL game, which was at Joe Louis Arena. Despite playing in a hostile road environment, the young Pavelski was not shaken. His team had trailed the majority of the game, but after tying it with 3:31 remaining, the teams were getting ready for OT. That is until Pavelski notched the winner with six seconds left on the clock, giving him four goals in five games. After watching him in college, many people already knew there was something special about this kid. Here was even more proof.

 

Pavelski would play the next year full time with the Sharks and never look back. For a team that brings their stars along somewhat slow, this speaks volumes. Joe fell one goal short of a 20-goal campaign, but electrified fans yet again in the postseason with nine points in 13 games. Although he scored only five goals that postseason, three of them were game winners. The following season, 2008-09, would be seen as a breakout season as he scored 25 goals and added 34 assists.

 

In 2009-10, Pavelski was limited to only 67 games, but he still scored 25 goal