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Meet 'Captain America': 5 things you might not know about Joe Pavelski

From leading the U.S. national team to rooting for the Cowboys, here are a few fun facts about the new Stars forward

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The Stars signed Joe Pavelski to a three-year, free-agent contract that averages $7 million on July 1. So what should Dallas fans know about their newest possible star?

Here are five things:

 

1. He's nicknamed 'Captain America'

Pavelski is from Plover, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin, so he plays for Team USA in international competition.

Pavelski first wore his country's colors in the 2009 World Championship, and then was selected for both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. Pavelski helped Team USA win silver at the Vancouver Games in 2010. He assisted in setting up the tying goal in the gold-medal game with 25 seconds remaining. However, Canada went on to win the gold in overtime.

Pavelski was named captain of Team USA for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, thus getting the nickname "Captain America." When the Sharks handed out a Pavelski bobblehead in 2017, it was in a Captain America motif.

 

2. His first nickname was 'Little Joe'

When Pavelski entered the San Jose Sharks organization, he was a long-shot seventh-round draft pick. But after scoring seven goals in 2006-07, they started calling him "Little Joe" in San Jose. "Jumbo" Joe Thornton was team captain, and was 6-foot-4. Pavelski was 5-foot-11, and five years younger, so it made sense.

Pavelski made his mark quickly on the organization, as he had 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 16 AHL games at age 22, earned a call-up and never went back. He had 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 46 games his rookie season, and became a consistent presence in the Sharks lineup for 13 seasons.

Pavelski leaves the Sharks ranked second in goals at 355, third in assists (406), third in points (761), third in plus-minus (plus-108) and fourth in games played (963).

 

3. He had a nice winning run as a youngster

Pavelski helped his high school win the 2002 Wisconsin State Championship as a junior and then advanced to Waterloo of the USHL. There, he helped the Blackhawks win the 2004 Clark Cup. After that, he advanced to the University of Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win the 2006 NCAA championship.

Pavelski had 56 points (23 goals, 33 assists) in 43 games for Wisconsin his junior year, helping to jump start his pro career. Pavelski is so popular in his native Wisconsin, there has been a "Joe Pavelski Day" and there are high school hockey awards named after him.

While the Sharks have not won a Stanley Cup, they made it to the Final in 2016, losing to Pittsburgh. Pavelski has played in the post-season 12 of 13 seasons with San Jose, and accumulated 100 points (48 goals, 52 assists) in 134 playoff games.

 

4. He's been a durable player over the course of his career

Video: Joe Pavelski signs three-year contract with Stars

While Pavelski sustained a head injury in one of the most famous plays in the playoffs last season, he has been a sturdy player in his career.

Pavelski, who turns 35 on July 11, had a run where he missed one game in seven seasons before missing seven games last season.

That said, he had one of the more scary injuries of the playoffs. With San Jose and Vegas locked in a Game 7 in the first round, Pavelski was shoved off a faceoff and in an awkward twist, fell to the ice and hit his head. He received eight staples and did not play again until Game 7 of the second round series with Colorado. Vegas center Cody Eakin received a five-minute major penalty on the play, and San Jose scored four times en route to a 5-4 victory. Pavelski said later he did not believe that Eakin deserved the major penalty.

 

[READ MORE: Veteran Pavelski fills leadership, scoring needs for Stars]

 

Pavelski said after signing with the Stars that he feels great and does not believe he is breaking down in any way.

"I don't know what people say their prime is, but some of my best years have been 30-35. There's no reason that number isn't going to stretch to 35, 36, and 37 and I believe that," Pavelski said. "The one knock on me has always been my skating and that I haven't been as fast as the other guys, but I've never felt out of place out there and I've always been able to get it done.

"I've been at this level for a long time and I don't see it going down."

 

5. He grew up a fan of the Dallas Cowboys

Pavelski told NHL.com that he liked to pretend he was Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hill or Steve Yzerman when he was a kid, and that he also liked a certain football team that was not located in Wisconsin.

"I loved winners," Pavelski said. "I liked Detroit, Colorado -- they were always battling, always fun to watch. They would bring it every night, could connect the dots, pass, snap the puck around, score goals and win a championship. That's kind of fun. I grew up liking the Dallas Cowboys. I would jump on the bandwagon, I guess you could say. But there's something about winning that draws me to it."

Pavelski is known for his world-class work ethic, and said those games he used to play as a kid helped establish his drive.

"I don't know what it is about this game, but I've always loved to practice, loved to shoot pucks and loved to play in our driveway," he said in 2008.

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.

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