Q&A: Joe Pavelski on playing for DeBoer again, golf after hockey

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Joe Pavelski came close but ended up falling short at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament to another famous Dallas athlete. 

The Stars forward lost in a second playoff hole to Tony Romo to give the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback his third victory at the event, which takes place annually at Edgewood Tahoe South in Stateline, Nevada where the NHL played two outdoor games in 2021.

Pavelski was one of a hundred athletes and entertainers to take part in the three-day event. Golf is a big passion for the Stars forward. In the 2021-22 NHLPA players’ poll, his fellow players believe he could make it a professional golfer. He’s finished second, sixth, 11th, third, 12th, and 10th, respectively, in the six times he’s participated in the Tahoe tournament.

When Pavelski is done playing hockey, he says he would consider going the Romo route and attempting to qualify for high-level golf tournaments.

“Yeah, I think it’d be fun to get out and play a little bit more competitive golf,” Pavelski told NBC Sports before the tournament started. “You always come to this Tahoe event and you get on that first tee and you’re like ‘Dang, I wish I would have done this a couple of times’ as far in the competition. Playing with your buddies gets you ready and there’s a lot of razzing going on and some money games. I love competitive golf and tournament golf. It’s funny how the mind can switch on you a little bit there.”

We spoke with Pavelski about his golfing prowess, playing for Peter DeBoer once again, and what made his line with Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson work so well.


Q. You’ve done real well at this tournament in the past. I know the NHL schedule has been all over the place the last few years but are you able to get out and play during the season or do you primarily get out there during the off-seasons?

PAVELSKI: “I try to get out when I can. Being in Dallas now has helped with the winter time and the schedule you’re able to get out. It’s not super warm in the middle of winter down there but you can catch the right day and have a pretty nice day on the course. I like to think I like to get out to play a round once every three weeks. Some weeks are better than others. There’s months you don’t play at all and then there’ll be a week you get out a couple of times on a good homestand. We get to the club a little bit more than that, try to get out there once a week and just hit balls a little bit or going and playing a few holes with [my son], it’s nice to get out there.”

Q. Who’s the worst golfer on the Dallas Stars?

PAVELSKI: “There’s some bad guys and I think they know it so they just don’t play. We’ve got a good crew. [Jake Oettinger] is pretty good, Jamie Benn, [Tyler] Seguin, [Joel] Hanley, [John] Klingberg. I like to battle with Klinger quite a bit. [Ben Bishop]. I actually really like this group as far as that goes. There’s a lot of guys that are up for a round of two.”

Q. So no one with a Charles Barkley swing?

PAVELSKI: “No. To be honest, I don’t know if I’d play with them [Laughs]. Why waste my time? I haven’t seen it. There’s some bad swings, I’m sure.”

Q. Moving on to the Stars, did Jim Nill reach out to get your thoughts about Peter as he was going through the process of finding the next head coach?

PAVELSKI: “There were some questions. I was always open. I really enjoyed him as a head coach. I thought he had a great staff. We had a good thing in San Jose, so a lot of trust in the message he’s always given us as a group. When I was with him and watching his teams from far away, you knew he was doing a good job. [I’m] definitely excited. When they did bring that name up I tried to answer the questions. I never thought I’d probably play for him again, to be honest. He was in a pretty good spot there in Vegas and doing a good job. It’s funny how things work out and I’m excited for the opportunity for sure.”

Q. When Rick Bowness stepped away did you reach out to Jim and throw Peter’s name out there after he became available?

PAVELSKI: “It was definitely one of those conversations that you just had a feel that chances were pretty good. And I think Pete was on a lot of team’s radars. I definitely gave him some support for what that’s worth. They go through their process and narrow things down. It was good to see that he was at the top of their list and we were able to get him.”

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Isaiah Vazquez/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images

Q. You had four of your most productive seasons under Peter in San Jose. What was it about his system that suited your game and best?

PAVELSKI: “It’s got a lot of good pieces to it. I don’t want to say it’s a simple system, but it’s clear. You have an understanding of what you’re trying to do on the forecheck, breakouts, stuff like that. There’s some good pieces put in place for the D-zone and breaking the puck out which allowed us to spread the ice at time and generate some speed and gapping, creating opportunities that way.”

Q. His style allows for a lot of shots from the point, right? That’s going to be huge for you and your tipping ability again.

PAVELSKI: “Yeah, it helps. Whatever system you’re playing there’s a certain level that you just have to go figure it out. I had some great years in Dallas with Rick. Whatever style it is you get a certain onus on the player to have that production.”

Q. Your line with Roope and Jason was incredibly productive this season at 5-on-5. What is it about their games individually that made the line click?

PAVELSKI: “My game, I see the ice and think the game well. It’s one of my strengths, it’s something I lean on. Those two guys are very smart hockey players and they’re good with the puck and have confidence to make plays and find themselves in right positions. We just complement each other very well, especially with Roope — a big body that can skate. And Robo’s got a lot of good playmaking and some sneaky size, sneaky shot. He finds himself in a lot of good places and the puck follows him around. It has the last little bit. I’m reading off those guys and they’re reading off me. It’s just worked. It’s a fun line to play on.”

Q. You’re 38 and coming off a career-best point total. Do you have a timeframe in mind for how much longer you want to continue playing?

PAVELSKI: “No, we’re just year by year right now. No rush, we’ll figure it out as we go. I’m sure there will be questions but you just focus on what you’re doing and see how everything holds up after the season and we’ll go from there.”


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.

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