The Invincible M.A.E. (harleymae) wrote,
The Invincible M.A.E.

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Joe Bean Blind Side Pavelski

I was reading some Mercury News coverage of the Sharks and came across this curiously titled article: Purdy: Coach, wife gave young Pavelski a home.

OMG!!!!!! Is this going to be hockey's Midwestern version of The Blind Side??? And why would poor little Pavelski be homeless? And then it occurred to me that (SPOILER ALERT for the Bean branch of the Ender's Game books, but not the Ender branch that involved strange pig people and mistaken evisceration) perhaps Pavelski originated, much like Bean did, as some kind of genetic experiment to unlock human potential but then escaped into the crime-ridden streets of uhh, Waterloo, Iowa, surviving by his wits and nascent hockey skills until he was discovered by this coach who figured that he would feed and house him in return for his conscription to his beloved Wisconsin Badgers.

Come on, it explains why Pavelski is short! Where his preternatural hockey sense comes from. Unfortunately this means he's about to drop dead of old age any day now...

But then I read the story and in summary, Pavelski broke into the coach's house and when the coach came home, he said, "HEY CAN I LIVE HERE FOR A WHILE???" and they said okay. Most disappointing. I enjoy my version much more.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to collect Pavelski articles.

Purdy: Coach, wife gave young Pavelski a home

By Mark Purdy

Mercury News Columnist
Posted: 05/01/2010 08:48:46 PM PDT
Updated: 05/02/2010 04:00:04 AM PDT

I guess we have established that this spring Joe Pavelski is having the hockey time of his life. When the puck is on his stick, the Sharks are winning. And vice versa.

In seven playoff games, Pavelski has scored seven goals. Applause has ensued. Along with many television highlights.

But that's today. What about yesterday? Long ago, before Joe Pavelski became a Silicon Valley sports icon, he was just a teenage hockey player sitting in a recliner at the Iowa home of his coach, P.K. O'Handley.

Which came as a major surprise to O'Handley. Because Pavelski did not have a key to the house.

"My wife and I came home one day, and Joe was just sitting there in my chair," O'Handley remembered the other day. "He said he thought he might want to live with us a while.

"I still don't know how he got in. I'm guessing he was let inside by another player who'd stayed with us before."

Confronted with Pavelski's request, Maria and P.K. O'Handley looked at each other. The kid seemed genuine. He was far from his Wisconsin hometown and needed a surrogate family. He promised not to eat them out of Doritos. So the O'Handleys said yes.

And thus was cemented a relationship that, as much as any, forged Pavelski's eerie mind-meld ability to excel at his sport.

"We just had a feeling of trust with each other, right from the start," Pavelski said of O'Handley.

"I'd like to say I was surprised by his eventual success," O'Handley said of Pavelski. "But I'm really not. ... He was always talking to me, asking, asking, asking questions about hockey. He wanted to know how to improve. He kept a book, kind of a diary, writing down what he'd learned every day. I think he still does."

During the intense tornado of playoff hockey, which will be on display again tonight in Game 2 of Sharks vs. Red Wings, we often forget that each of the players is a human being with a unique story about how he found himself inside that tornado.

Pavelski's roots are more modest than those of many other American hockey players, who are often from upscale suburbs in Boston or Minneapolis or Detroit. Pavelski grew up in a small Wisconsin town named Plover, just outside a slightly larger small town named Stevens Point. His dad worked (and still does) as a painting contractor.

The Stevens Point metropolitan area is not exactly ground zero for U.S. hockey talent. Pavelski's parents never pushed him onto skates. He didn't play summer hockey the way some kids did. Instead, he played golf.

Not until his junior year in high school, when Pavelski's team won the Wisconsin state championship, did he or his family seriously wonder if Joe might have a future in college hockey or beyond.

But the issue was sensitive. In Canada, good hockey players routinely leave their homes at age 16 to join junior teams in far-flung places. Few American teens make the same choice.

"My parents put a lot of thought into the decision," Pavelski said. "You only heard of one or two people from my hometown who had left to play in juniors, and it hadn't always worked out. You heard some horror stories."

There was also no guarantee that Pavelski was good enough even to make a junior team. He was smallish and not a terrific skater. But he decided to take the chance after receiving an invitation to the training/tryout camp for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League.

Waterloo was about a five-hour drive from Plover. On the first day, 102 skaters were attempting to win 25 roster spots. It had to be intimidating, yes?

"Well," noted Pavelski, "they weren't all on the ice at the same time."

Good point. But still daunting.

"Sure," Pavelski said. "You had that desperate kind of feeling, the same one you have when you have your first practice at college where you're not sure if you're good enough. I was definitely a little scared. ... I think it was a case of, 'We'll give this kid a chance and see what he can do.' "

O'Handley, a rookie coach in Waterloo that season, saw enough.

"It didn't take long for Joe to emerge," O'Handley said. "Two things stood out — his smarts, and his hands were so quick."

Pavelski made the team, found a local family to bunk with, enrolled at the local high school. He began the season on the Black Hawks' third line but rapidly moved up and began playing on every special team. The University of Wisconsin was interested but wanted Pavelski to spend another season in Waterloo. That's when he went to O'Handley's house and asked to live there.

"It turned out really well," O'Handley said. "Sometimes it isn't good when a player lives with his coach. But we'd sit up and watch NHL games on television, talk about the games, talk about other things, talk about what he was studying in school."

After Pavelski's second season, Wisconsin came through with a scholarship. The Sharks saw Pavelski play for the Badgers and drafted him in the seventh round. The rest, you know.

Oh, but this part, you don't: O'Handley and his wife are guests this weekend of Pavelski and his wife at their San Jose home. Maria and P.K. are attending the playoffs courtesy of Joe, who has never forgotten what the O'Handleys did for him. Or what they cooked for him.

"He was on the grill last night," Pavelski reported Saturday. "He made his Greek chicken, just like back in Waterloo."

No word on who got the recliner.

They showed the coach on the Versus broadcast but I didn't know that Pavelski and invited them to stay with them. Aww!

Pavelski shines in postseason for Sharks

By JOSH DUBOW AP Sports Writer
Posted: 04/30/2010 10:56:06 AM PDT
Updated: 04/30/2010 11:06:10 AM PDT

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Joe Pavelski entered the postseason for the San Jose Sharks with the nickname "Little Joe," which made sense considering he played on the same team as Jumbo Joe Thornton.

With seven goals in seven playoff games, the Sharks' 5-foot-11 forward is now being called the "Big Pavelski."

"If you followed the team and watched his play, he's been pretty inspirational and scored some pretty big goals," coach Todd McLellan said. "He found a way to make an impact on the game. That's what the playoffs are all about. You have to raise your level a little bit and find a way to leave your mark on the game every night."

Pavelski has done just that this month. After scoring five goals to lead the Sharks past Colorado in six games in the first round, Pavelski scored the first goal and the eventual game-winner in San Jose's 4-3 victory over Detroit to open the second round Thursday night.

His two power-play goals against the Red Wings showed off his strengths. On the first, he took a pass from Dan Boyle in the slot and beat Jimmy Howard with a pinpoint wrist shot. On the second, he found the open spot near the side of the net, took a pass from Boyle and beat Howard between the pads.

"He's just a really smart guy," Boyle said. "He sees the play, sees the ice very well. He has a great shot. All his goals, he's picking corners right now. The guys is just really smart. That's his biggest asset. He knows the game and he's seeing the ice really well right now."

Pavelski's seven postseason goals are tied with Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson for the most this postseason. He will try to add to the total in Game 2 on Sunday night.

A year ago, Pavelski was held to a lone assist in San Jose's first-round loss to Anaheim.

That was just the latest in a run of postseason disappointments for the Sharks and Pavelski took it particularly hard. That's what has made his latest performance so gratifying.

"It's the time of year we play for and it's exciting," Pavelski said. "And you want to be good. Last year you saw what happens when you don't perform. And the way you feel."

The soft-spoken Pavelski dismisses any suggestion that the Sharks are now his team. He quickly credits linemates Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi for his success.

"You can get in zones in the playoffs," he said. "It's not just me but Clowe and Seto. We spent a lot of time on the ice together. Their intensity level is just as high and you saw the production."

The trio has supplanted San Jose's gold medal line of Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley as the top producers. The so-called second line has 12 goals so far in the playoffs compared with just two for the more heralded trio that combined for 40 percent of San Jose's regular-season scoring.

While Setoguchi provides the speed on the line and Clowe uses his size to win the battles on the boards and keep possession, Pavelski has been the biggest key.

"He's so consistent right now," Thornton said. "He's hungry. He always seems to be where the puck is. He's a stud right now and we just want him to keep it going."

A former seventh-round pick who was selected 205th overall in 2003, Pavelski first started to get recognition with his play at the Olympics.

The native of Stevens Point, Wis., won the faceoff that led to Zach Parise's tying goal in the final minute of regulation in the gold-medal game. He then had a chance to score the game-winner in overtime before the United States lost to Canada 3-2.

"I've been a fan of his since I got here," Boyle said. "I didn't really know who he was when I got here. But he certainly earned my respect early. Anyone who is watching hockey should know who he is now. He's just got it going on. He's a big piece of this puzzle."

Pavelski picked up that strong play when he returned from the Olympics, recording nine goals and seven assists in the final 20 games of the season.

The playoffs have just been a continuation.

"He's a good player and like all good players, you just play as hard as you possibly can against him," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who coached Team Canada in the Olympics. "You try to limit his chances."

Genetically engineered.

'The Big Pavelski' is a modest dude
April 28, 2010|By Rusty Simmons, Chronicle Staff Writer

Hockey reporters from across North America called in Tuesday to learn some more about the Sharks' big star. It wasn't Jumbo Joe, it was Little Joe, and they found out he doesn't come off as Joe Cool. Just Joe from Plover.

That appears to be the way Joe Pavelski likes it.

After a spotlight-grabbing first round against Colorado, the Sharks' second-line center tried to get back to playing second-hand rose. Pavelski managed to get through a 20-minute conference call without saying "I," spent the majority of his time defending teammates and even mixed in a nod to the Shark Tank fans.

Even his approach to next round's opponent was telling. When asked about the game coming later Tuesday between Detroit and Phoenix, one that decided the Sharks' second-round opponent, Pavelski chose to talk about teamwork.

"What is most impressive is that they don't really have one guy who steps up all the time," he said. "They do it by committee."

This from a guy in his contract year who led the Sharks with five goals and came up with most every clutch play in a series victory that washed out some of last season's first-round pain. Pavelski scored a last-minute, game-tying goal in Game 2, had the overtime winner in Game 4 and netted the series-clincher in Game 6.

His thoughts: "Manny Malhotra" did this, "Douglas Murray" did that, and "Dan Boyle" did this and that.

However, the player who has most often come up in the hockey media's playoff coverage of Pavelski is Joe Thornton. It's an easy comparison - or, rather, contrast.

One is known as "Jumbo Joe," from the city of London, Ontario. Considered among the best players in the world and a future Hall of Famer, he is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and was drafted first overall by the Bruins in 1997. The other is "Little Joe," who comes from Plover, Wis., an 8.9-square-mile village. He is 5-11, 190 pounds and was the 205th draft pick, by the Sharks, in 2003.

Sharks broadcaster Drew Remenda wrote in his blog that "Little Joe has morphed into the 'The Big Pavelski.' " Pavelski had eight points and a plus-six to Thornton's three points and minus-four in the opening round.

But the comparison makes Pavelski so sheepish that he almost entirely avoids it.

"This first series was about overcoming, and it didn't really matter how we got there," Pavelski said when asked directly about the Joe link. "We just wanted to win.

"(Thornton) has led the way at times, and it was just important that we won, however it got done."

Pavelski is about to get a big raise from his $1.7 million salary, having equaled the combined scoring output of the nine Sharks with higher salaries in the first round. His line, which includes Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi, combined for 22 points and a plus-16 as contrasted with the Thornton-Dany Heatley-Patrick Marleau line, which had 10 points and a minus-seven.

"You know they're great players and they're going to work it out," Pavelski said of the top line. "We earned another series, which gives them time. We expect great things from them. They've led us all year, and that is what we expect now.

"At the same time, everyone has to lead in their own way and establish their game."

For Pavelski, that means consistently playing his way into and, just as swiftly, talking his way out of, the spotlight.

I'm glad he's not letting all of the attention get to him, not that he's the kind of person to allow it to. He's right, though, it's the team that's put him in a position to succeed.

Red-hot Pavelski makes up for missing Marleau
Friday, 04.30.2010 / 12:40 AM / Sharks vs Red Wings - 2010 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals
By Brian Compton - Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- With Patrick Marleau a last-minute scratch, the San Jose Sharks needed someone to step up and provide offense in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion on Thursday night.

Enter Joe Pavelski.

The team's "second-line" center was again sensational, as he tallied his sixth and seventh goals of the playoffs in a 4-3 victory as the Sharks took a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.

Pavelski, who represented the United States at the Olympics in February, spoke with the media after the game.

Q: The power play came up big tonight. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Pavelski: We had good net-front presence. There was urgency on it. We won the battles and pucks got to the net. We were able to contribute. Special teams is big. Five-on-three, you've got to score on those, or at least create a lot of momentum off it. It was big for us.

Q: Do you guys think you sent a message to Detroit with this victory?

Pavelski: You've just got to be prepared. When you lose that first game, the desperation goes up. It's important for us to realize not to take steps back. It was good to finally win a first game at home and reward our fans for the atmosphere they've given us here. No one is going to quit in this series.

Q: You guys scored three goals in a span of 1:19. What were you guys doing right?

Pavelski: It was exciting. That happens once in a while, where you just get that momentum. You definitely keep building on it. Three goals isn't safe by any means. They battled back. Every time we pulled away a little bit, they came back. We answered the bell.

Q: How confident are you right now when you have the puck? Is this the best you've ever felt from a confidence standpoint?

Pavelski: At times, it feels good. There are moments early in the game where you think you hear something or you make a play where you want it back because you know you can make it better. That's the way it goes. You've just got to respond.

I'm just glad "missing Marleau" was a reference to him literally missing Game 1 and not something else, haha.

Pavelski's play has Sharks looking to Round 2
Wednesday, 04.28.2010 / 12:12 PM / Sharks vs Red Wings - 2010 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals
By Adam Kimelman - Staff Writer

One Joe came up big for the San Jose Sharks in their six-game first-round playoff series win against the Colorado Avalanche.

Joe Pavelski, a one-time seventh-round draft pick, is the biggest reason the top-seeded Sharks survived a scare from the eighth-seeded Avalanche and did what last year's team couldn't -- win a playoff series.

While his teammates -- including one that shares his first name -- might get most of the attention, Pavelski is no ordinary Joe.

He leads the Sharks in the playoffs with 5 goals, and his 8 points and plus-6 rating are tied for the lead. He tied Game 2 with 31.3 seconds left in regulation, he scored the overtime winner in Game 4, and he scored the game-winning goal in the series clincher.

It was Pavelski's play centering the second line, mostly flanked by Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi, that propelled the Sharks into a second-round match-up with the Detroit Red Wings. Pavelski, Clowe and Setoguchi combined for 9 goals and 22 points in the first round. The Sharks' top trio of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley totaled just 1 goal and 10 points.

Pavelski insisted the team isn't depending on one player or line to lead them.

"Everyone's got to lead in their own way and establish their game," he said. "You saw in the first series, Scottie Nichol and Manny Malhotra, they all scored big goals for us, got us going at certain times in the games. It's important."

But even Pavelski expects the team's big line to get rolling sooner rather than later.

"You know great players are going to work it out," he said. "We earned another series, which gives them time. You know, we expect great things from them. They've led us all year. That's what we expect now.

"They had some good looks at the net (in Game 6), as well. A few pucks didn't go in. They're working just as hard as anybody right now. They want it just as bad as anybody. So hopefully it goes in for them and hopefully it keeps going in for everyone else, too."

They'll need a full complement of contributions against the Red Wings in the next round. They beat the Red Wings just once in four regular-season games, and that came in a shootout.

Regardless of the regular-season outcome, the Sharks at least beat back one postseason demon and showed they could move past the first round.

"I think we were happy, we were excited," Pavelski said. "A lot of work went into that series. You look at the first couple games, see the games we lost, putting 50 shots (on net). We invested quite a bit physically. It paid off at the end.

"I think it was more satisfying because it felt like we put the work in and we didn't really take any nights off. We didn't have a good game, then take a step back, kind of let them walk all over us. So that was encouraging there. That was one of the obstacles we wanted to overcome -- keep going, keep pressing, putting the hard work in, see where it gets us. You do it right, you're more than likely going to win most series."

To win another series would really be an accomplishment. San Jose hasn't been beyond the second round since the return from the work stoppage.

"We haven't made it past the second round in four or five years, I think -- not since I've been here," Pavelski said. "It's new territory. We've got to understand it only gets harder and more important games. The mental side of the game I think is really important for us."

Cleaning their mental side means ignoring their reputation for playoff failure. Rather than avoid it, however, Pavelski said it can't be ignored -- it's reality.

"Well, that is our reputation right now," he said. "You've got to work extremely hard to change your reputation once something happens."

That could start by winning the first game of a series; including this year's playoffs, the Sharks have lost Game 1 in four-straight series.

"The first game is important," Pavelski said. "We haven't won one of those in a while. I think the guys will be ready for that one."

I really like the thing he said about not having a good game, then taking a step back, because that's what we did against the Ducks last year. Won a big Game 3, looked like we were headed in the right direction, and followed up with a terrible Game 4 which basically sealed the deal.

Pavelski reaching lofty heights with playoff output
Monday, 05.03.2010 / 12:38 AM / Sharks vs Red Wings - 2010 Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals
By Brian Compton - Staff Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Joe Pavelski put himself in some elite company on Sunday night.

With two more goals in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the San Jose Sharks center became the first player to enjoy three consecutive multi-goal games since former Pittsburgh Penguins captain Mario Lemieux accomplished the feat in 1992.

Pavelski, who had 25 goals during the regular season, has scored nine times in his team's first eight games this postseason. It's arguably the biggest reason why the Sharks are headed to Detroit with a 2-0 series lead following their second straight 4-3 win against the Red Wings at HP Pavilion.

"Obviously, he's in the zone right now," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "Anything he touches seems to go in the net. (He had) 11 shots on goal. He feels very comfortable. But he's earned that right. He works very hard every shift. Pav is a catalyst right now."

Pavelski, a seventh-round draft choice in 2003, erased a 1-0 deficit when he scored on the power play 9:01 into the first period. Playing the point on the man advantage, the Wisconsin native ripped a slap shot from the point past Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. The roar from the capacity crowd of 17,562 was deafening as Pavelski was announced as the goal scorer, as he continues to gain rock-star status in the Bay Area.

"This is what you think about when you're lying in bed a lot of times and you can't sleep," Pavelski said. "You want to score points and you don't know if they're going to keep coming like that. You can't really worry about that. When somebody tells you that you shouldn't be doing it, that's when you're going to stop. It's just shift by shift right now. Hopefully we can keep scoring."

Pavelski continued his incredible output just 91 seconds later, when he sent a slick pass from along the left wall to the goal mouth, where Ryane Clowe collected the puck and backhanded it past Howard to give San Jose a 2-1 lead.

"I think he was hungry coming into these playoffs," said Clowe, who along with Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi forms the Sharks' second line. "He's stepped up, for sure."

With his team desperately needing a goal in the third period, Pavelski stepped up again. Trailing by one, the Sharks notched the equalizer when Pavelski crashed the net and poked a loose puck in the crease past Howard to make it 3-3. It was his second power-play goal of the night.

"I saw it was on the goal line," Pavelski said. "You're just going there and you're watching it bounce. I think I got a little piece of it. You've got to score on special teams when you get the chances, especially now. It definitely got the crowd going again."

Pavelski's output this postseason certainly defies logic. Sure, he's a talented player with a bright career ahead of him. But the first since Lemieux in '92 to enjoy three straight multi-goal games? The first since former Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic in '96 to notch three points in three straight contests? (By the way, both of those players went on to win the Stanley Cup in those respective years.)

How do you explain what is going on?

"Who knows what it is?" Pavelski said. "Confidence always helps. It's good to see pucks going in the net. It's good to work hard and get rewarded. It feels good to chip in."

It probably feels better to make everyone around you better. That's what Pavelski is doing this postseason.

"He's making things happen for himself and his line," Sharks forward Manny Malhotra said. "When you can get him in those key spots, you want him to have the puck."

With two wins in the bag already, it's hard to imagine the Sharks not advancing to the Western Conference Finals if they continue to receive this type of production from their U.S. Olympian. But Pavelski refuses to look past Tuesday night, when Game 3 of this series will take place at Joe Louis Arena.

"You've got to win four … it's still a long ways to go," No. 8 said. "We realize we're a long ways away. It's a hard climb and there's some great opponents out there, especially the one on the other side right now. You can't take a break. You know they're not going to."

Spoken like a true leader.

From a purely geeky perspective, I'm interested in what kind of system is set up for the statisticians, and what kind of interface they use to construct their queries. It would be amazing if they made this capability available to the public, but it would probably absolutely overload their servers.

There was a nice bit about Dwight Helminen in David Pollak's blog. He's from Michigan, so I expect him to play well in Games 3 and 4. No other reason. :P

Dwight Helminen’s Michigan background earned him a lot of attention. Born on the Upper Peninsula, he grew up in Brighton — about 45 minutes outside Detroit — and was a big Red Wings fan.

"It’s a thrill to get to play against the team I watched growing up and it’s extra special it’s in the playoffs," said Helminen, 26. "There’s a lot on the line here and it’s one of the times where you really really want it, especially against these guys."

Helminen, who went on to play college hockey at Michigan, talked about being a kid watching Nicklas Lidstrom play and later trying to pattern his style after Kris Draper. But there no sense of divided loyalties. Now his mission is to help knock those same players out of the post-season.

He said his immediate family is on board with the switch of allegiances.

"First cousins and stuff, all claim they're cheering for the Sharks," he said.

His sister, however, told him that a couple of her friends remain loyal to the Red Wings.

"They actually live in a house I own so I may have to adjust the rent," Helminen said. "The rent might be going up."

I like how he's suspicious of his cousins. They "claim" they're cheering for the Sharks. :P And threatening to raise the rent for the Red Wings fans!

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