Dallas Stars’ Joe Pavelski, top US-born playoff goal scorer, won’t play in NHL next season

Dallas Stars’ Joe Pavelski, top US-born playoff goal scorer, won’t play in NHL next season

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski, the NHL’s leading U.S.-born playoff goal scorer, announced he doesn’t intend to play in the NHL next season after 18 seasons in the league.

Pavelski, 39, didn’t use the word retirement – noting, ” I don’t want to say this is official” – but stated Tuesday, “This was it for me.”

The Wisconsin native, who spent the past five seasons with the Stars following 13 years with the San Jose Sharks, tallied 476 goals and 1,068 points in 1,332 career regular-season games.

“It was known for a while, probably,” Pavelski said about his decision not to play next season.

Pavelski is leaving the game after the Stars’ second consecutive appearance in the Western Conference final. He had five shots in a Game 6 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in his best performance of the 2024 playoffs.

“Everything is still so raw, nothing official,” Pavelski said Tuesday. “There will be more words. I’m going to need a little bit of time to really put it together and figure it out that way. Most likely that was it and couldn’t ask for a better opportunity and a better group of guys to be around.”

Pavelski was limited to one goal this postseason, but he has 74 in his career, 14 more than Joe Mullen (Brett Hull, who played for the USA internationally, was born in Canada). He’s third with 143 points, right behind Mike Modano (146) and Chris Chelios (144).

He also played for the USA in 2010 and 2014 Olympics, winning a silver medal in the first one, and was captain of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey team.

Pavelski never won a Stanley Cup but he went to the Final in 2016 with the Sharks, scoring a playoff-leading 14 goals and four game-winners, and in 2020 with the Stars.

He also was an inadvertent part of a major Sharks playoff comeback and a resulting rules change.

In Game 7 of the first round of the 2019 playoffs, the Vegas Golden Knights’ Cody Eakin shoved Pavelski, who lost his balance and hit his head on the ice, opening a cut. Referees, seeing the blood, called Eakin for a major penalty for cross-checking. San Jose, trailing 3-0, scored four times on the power play and won in overtime.

Pavelski heard the comeback while getting eight staples in his head to close the gash.

“Getting the first staple in the head is probably when the first goal horn went off,” he said. “It was kind of being like, ‘What was that? Did we score?’ By the time the fourth or fifth staple was going in, it was going off again. It was like, ‘All right, cool.’”

He returned from his injury in Game 7 of the second round and had a goal and an assist to down the Colorado Avalanche.

The NHL changed its rules that offseason to allow for review of major penalties.

The Sharks captain signed a three-year, $21 million free agent contract with the Stars in the summer of 2019 and helped them reached the Stanley Cup Final that season. He scored 13 goals, including getting a hat trick and another three-point game in the second round.

“Since Day One since he’s been in here, he’s meant everything to our group, on the ice, off the ice, all our golf games, he’s improved all of those,” teammate Tyler Seguin said after Sunday’s loss. “Just an amazing person.”

Pavelski had a four-goal game against the Seattle Kraken in the 2023 playoffs as the Stars reached the conference final. He was the oldest player in NHL history to achieve that.

He signed a one-year extension for the 2023-24 season and scored 27 goals but decided against returning for another season.

“All-time teammate, person, great leader, good friend,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said.

Related Articles