Stars’ Pavelski not planning to play any more after 1,533 games over 18 NHL seasons

Joe Pavelski has announced that he will not be returning to the NHL after 18 seasons and 1,533 games. Despite a successful career, Pavelski never had the opportunity to hoist the coveted Stanley Cup. The Dallas Stars forward made this revelation two days after the team’s loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference final, marking the second consecutive year they fell short of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. At 40 years old, Pavelski stated that he is still processing the emotions that come with the end of a season and while he hasn’t made an official announcement, his intention is not to return. He plans to take some time to reflect and provide further details in the future.
The Wisconsin-born player, who holds the record for the most playoff goals by a U.S.-born player with 74, was nearing the end of his contract with the Dallas Stars. In his first season with the team, he reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2020, and he had previously reached that stage with the San Jose Sharks in 2016.

Coach Pete DeBoer, who had Pavelski as his captain in San Jose for four years before joining the Stars, spoke highly of him, calling him a consummate professional and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to work with him again.

Pavelski, who was selected 205th overall in the seventh round of the 2003 draft by the Sharks, made his NHL debut in the 2006-07 season. Throughout his career, he has scored 476 goals and provided 592 assists in 1,332 regular-season games. As of this season, he ranks fifth among active players in goals and seventh in points with 1,068.
Last week, Joe Pavelski made his 200th postseason appearance, becoming the 25th player in NHL history to achieve this milestone. He surpassed it by playing in a total of 201 playoff games. However, unlike the others in this elite group, Pavelski has yet to win a Stanley Cup title. Throughout the current postseason, he scored one goal in 19 games.

The Dallas Stars entered the playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference. Despite facing tough opponents in the first two rounds, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche, both of whom were the previous two Stanley Cup champions, the Stars managed to advance. Unfortunately, their season came to an end with a 2-1 loss on Sunday night in Edmonton.

Reflecting on his time with the team, Pavelski expressed his gratitude, stating, “I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity or a better group of guys to be around. There have been a rollercoaster of emotions throughout this journey.”

Wyatt Johnston, a 21-year-old forward and the leading scorer for the Stars this season, had the privilege of living with Pavelski and his family during his first two NHL seasons.
Johnston expressed his gratitude towards Pavelski and his family for the valuable lessons he has learned from them. He acknowledged that Pavelski’s impact goes beyond just himself, but extends to the entire organization. When asked about how long he had known that this would be Pavelski’s last season, Johnston admitted that he couldn’t pinpoint an exact time, but living with him gave him a sense of it. This knowledge further fueled their desire to win for Pavelski. Pavelski confirmed that he and his family will be relocating back to Wisconsin. After spending 13 seasons with the Sharks, Pavelski was unable to negotiate a contract to remain in San Jose. Consequently, he signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Stars in the summer of 2019. Since then, he has inked consecutive one-year contracts, earning $5.5 million this season with a base salary of $3.5 million, plus incentives based on games played. Remarkably, Pavelski has played in all 302 regular-season games for Dallas over the past four seasons.
“I think it won’t fully sink in until next year when we gather for training camp and realize he’s not there,” expressed goaltender Jake Oettinger. “There just aren’t enough words to describe the immense impact he has, and it’s a void that can never be filled.”

Having spent two weeks in concussion protocol during the previous year’s playoffs, Pavelski made a triumphant return in Game 1 of the second round, establishing himself as the oldest player to achieve a four-game goal streak in NHL playoff history, simultaneously equaling the Stars’ playoff record. This unforgettable performance, which included two crucial goals in the third period to force overtime, unfortunately concluded in a 5-4 loss to Seattle.

Pavelski had been absent for the final five games of the first-round series against Minnesota due to a forceful hit that resulted in a hard impact to his head on the ice during Game 1.