Joe Pavelski on free agency process, January return to San Jose

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It’s been 10 days since Joe Pavelski signed with the Dallas Stars, officially ending his 13-season tenure with the San Jose Sharks. Some days that reality has hit him, while there are times where it still doesn’t seem real.

In two months time, when NHL training camps open and he’s donning the Stars’ green and white, that’s when Pavelski feels the move will finally sink in.

As he went through the free agency interview period at the end of June, Pavelski still held out hope that things would work out with the Sharks. But with the team tight up against the salary cap ceiling and with a handful of players to re-sign, that hope soon faded.

“The last possible moment you still kind of feel something’s going to come out of left field and happen and get done,” Pavelski told NBC Sports this week. “But as you get to that free agency window and you start talking to teams, you understand that this is real and you’re going to make an important decision and it’s not just for me, it’s for my family and everything that comes with it. We feel like we made a good one.”

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Nearly three months after suffering a nasty injury during Game 7 of San Jose’s Round 1 series against the Vegas Golden Knights, Pavelski said, “[I] feel like I’ve turned a corner” after needing eight staples in his head and being diagnosed with a concussion.

The Stars had no concerns about his health after signing Pavelski, who had never been through the free agency process before, to a three-year, $21 million deal. When he knew a return to San Jose wasn’t in the cards, he wanted to join a good team that would give him a chance to win. What they have in Dallas checked many of the boxes he was looking for: solid goaltending, good, young exciting defensemen, and a strong forward group that he’ll get to join. He’ll get a chance to get to know one of his new teammates, Tyler Seguin, a little better this weekend as the pair are in a group with T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals at the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

Jan. 11, 2020 will be a special date for Pavelski and his family. That’s when the Stars make their first visit to San Jose and the SAP Center crowd and his former teammates will shower him with plenty of love that evening. It’ll be a memorable night, one that the 34-year-old is expecting will be a tough one to get through, but he’s ready to experience the rollercoaster of emotions.

“I don’t know how it’s going to be,” Pavelski said. “Seeing different guys go through it, it looks like it could be a tough night. It’s one of those things, you’ve still got to play a hockey game and it’s going to be a lot of emotions.

“I’m really looking forward to going back. I owe so much to the city of San Jose and how they treated us. The bond is real. The emotions are real, and at the end of the day I’m really going to cherish my time in San Jose.”

You can watch Pavelski, Oshie, Seguin, and NBC’s Jeremy Roenick and Kathryn Tappen, along other celebrities from the sports and entertainment world participate in the American Century Championship golf tournament this weekend from Lake Tahoe. Coverage begins Friday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and continues Saturday and Sunday on NBC at 3 p.m. ET. You can watch a live stream here.

MORE: Pavelski, Perry missing pieces for Stars?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.