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'I look back at last year and I just had a blast': Q&A with Joe Pavelski

The 16-year NHL veteran expresses his excitement for the upcoming season and shares insight on his off-ice endeavors

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Stars forward Joe Pavelski is entering his 16th NHL season and his third with the Stars. The 37-year-old has logged 1,086 regular-season games and 161 more in the playoffs. He led the Stars in scoring with 51 points (25 goals, 26 assists) in 56 games last season and led all Dallas forwards in time on ice at 19:06 per game.

The native of Plover, Wisconsin has diversified his interests in recent offseasons, opening a LeanFeast franchise in Madison, and also co-founding and expanding a sports media company, TorchPro. Pavelski took the time recently to answer a few questions on the upcoming season, his passion for the game and his interests away from hockey.

Q: Can you discuss TorchPro and what your vision is for it?

Pavelski: TorchPro started as Kompany39, and we started it with the purpose of wanting to share information. It was almost like a digital hockey camp. We wanted youth fans to have access to players and share information. Then [CEO and Co-Founder] Matt [Fornatoro] took Kompany39 and then we rebranded it. It's a similar model, but in a way it's a digital agency that helps with social brand building. There are so many good stories in sports, and we want to be able to tell those stories. Hockey in general, we lack in that department. It's a compliment to the hockey players because they're more humble and they don't want to put themselves first, and I'm the same way. But there is a sense that it can be fun to share a few things and try to help people out. So our team works with guys to see what players want to do outside of hockey and then build that while they're still playing and while they're still very relevant in the sport. Because one day you'll be done, and it'll be easier to create the momentum if you have a head start. In a sense, you're just keeping the momentum going.

We've seen with the Players' Tribune and NHLPA articles that fans really enjoy hearing it directly from the players, so there does seem to be a market there.

Pavelski: Definitely. I love reading articles that are from the players. You can learn so much when they start talking about their experiences and how they've approached the game. We'll share that in the locker room or on the golf course, and this is just another way to tap into that. My favorite player was Brett Hull growing up, and I would've loved to have been able to watch a video on how he shot the puck, what he was thinking, so we're trying to make that possible now and create an avenue where athletes can share what they're thinking.

You also seem to be trying to help young NHL players find direction in how they want to interact with fans?

Pavelski: Social media is here to stay, so why not make the best of that? You see the kids coming in, and they are all about it, and they embrace it, so you should use that in a positive way. Everybody is going to have an opinion, and you have to learn to deal with that. If you're going to focus on bad, you're already losing. I try to focus on the good stuff, and that helps me. The TorchPro platform is something the player has complete control over. It's a safe spot for them.

How did the LeanFeast restaurant start? It seems very healthy, so was that a big part of your interest?

Pavelski: The first store opened a mile from me in San Jose. I drove by it for a few months and then we finally checked it out and liked it, and I started to see how I could prepare all my pregame meals there. It really allowed me to understand the amount I was eating, and I think that helped me regulate a few things. Then, when we went home in the summer, we would really miss it. We figured that people in Madison would enjoy it, as well, and it's worked well.

Your wife Sarah is a partner and you've worked there with her and your son Nate, how was that experience?

Pavelski: It was fun going through the whole process, learning how it worked, taking some phone calls. You try to help out, and it's fun. Nate would love to go in and make his own meals and make Sarah's meals for her, so we would help out when we could.

What did you do for a summer job when you were young?

Pavelski: I worked with my dad. He paints and wallpapers and there were certain jobs I could do. I would do some of the grunt work, stripping wallpaper. Then my first real job was working at the country club. I got free golf when I wasn't working.

Does this all work together? How do you juggle it?

Pavelski: It does work together. It gives you something to look forward to when your career is over. How do you juggle it? Well, the main part is there are a lot of people who are putting in the hours and making it work, they allow you to even have this be an option. They deserve all the credit. My No. 1 thing is squeezing out as much of this career as I can, and then I'm active in my companies as much as I can.

You were mentioned a few times in records that were set for players "36 or older." How does it feel when you are referenced as an older player?

Pavelski: I really didn't think about it until those numbers started popping up here and there. I look back at last year and I just had a blast. It was fun. If I played more than 20 minutes, I would feel it, but the body recovered well, and that's always exciting to see. I definitely feel I can still do the things I want to do, and I have a lot of confidence in myself. I'm excited for the season to come. It's always a process. You get on the ice, every day is something, and that's whether you're young or you're old. The skating legs take a little time to come, especially for me, skating has never been my strongest point, so it's something you have to work through.

Do some of your former teammates like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau inspire you?

Pavelski: Absolutely. I think that really has helped pull me along. You see a guy like Jumbo or Patty, they love the game, they're playing, and you look at that and say, `There's no way I can be done.' There's always somebody older doing it better, so you just keep trying to get the job done. It's so much fun to get to go to the rink every day and be around the people and feel that energy. A guy like Coach Bones (Rick Bowness), he's a perfect example of that, that it really is a privilege to be there. It's great to be around those people.

Has playing with younger players like Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz helped?

Pavelski: It's been awesome. With Hintz the way he can skate and the plays he was making, and Robo moves well and thinks the game well, it was something where I just felt comfortable being on the ice with them. It was a good fit. And how good they are and how talented they are, that's one thing, but when you have a couple of teammates who really want to work hard and compete, that makes it even better.

How do you look at this upcoming season?

Pavelski: It seems like a year that has the potential to be very good. You look at the development of the younger players, and they really are taking the next step. Everybody is disappointed we missed the playoffs last year, and that should provide motivation. I think everyone is excited to get healthy and see what we can do.

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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