Tissues were in high demand Saturday night when Joe Pavelski played his first game in San Jose since leaving the Sharks for the Dallas Stars over the summer.
Before the teams dropped the puck, a tribute video was played in SAP Center, and there weren't many dry eyes left when it was over.
Following the video. Sharks fans gave the former captain a lengthy standing ovation, which was a bit awkward for a guy who played 13 seasons in San Jose.
"It was awesome. It was pretty cool," Pavelski told reporters after the Sharks' 2-1 win. "This is a special place to myself, my family. To be out there when the building is full like that, I wanted to get on with the [national] anthem, but they wouldn't let me.
"It was pretty special. I've always had, I believe, a pretty special bond with these fans and those guys over there, and it was just a tremendous night. They did it right. Thanks to everyone involved out there and everyone that showed up tonight. Would have liked to win, for sure, but it was pretty special."
Pavelski shed blood, sweat and tears with a lot of the Sharks players he faced Saturday, which made his time on the ice a bit strange.
"It had a little bit of everything," Pavelski said. "It was weird, it was fun. It was fun just seeing the other guys and taking face-offs against a few guys. There were a few good lines out there."
Pavelski and the Stars arrived in the Bay Area on Friday, giving him time to explore the city he called home for 13 years.
"It was nice having the day off yesterday, you know, to buzz around town and see a few faces and do a few things," Pavelski said. "Not feel like I was rushed and have a few good conversations along the way.
"And today, showing up, it was, coming out of the visiting side, was a little different seeing that jersey. It was weird a few times, when you heard, whether it was 88 [Brent Burns] or Joe Thornton, my mind kinda went back, you're waiting for your name to be called. It was kinda weird how it just came and all the noises, all the sounds, smells, everything brought back good memories."
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The Sharks picked Pavelski in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and developed him into the face of the franchise. He represented the Sharks in three All-Star Games and wore the "C" on his sweater for four seasons.
Pavelski was told that several of the Sharks' North American scouts were in attendance for his return, and he was asked what that meant to him.
"That's just the bond that I have with them, and vica versa," Pavelski said. "I was always thankful they took a chance on me. I think [Sharks amateur scout] Pat Funk was a big key to that, pushing for me.
"The opportunity I was given, I was able to have success with that first opportunity and going on a little run and getting myself established there, and then every year, trying to build on it and add layers and keep getting better. There's a lot of special people over there."
It was an emotional night for everyone involved, and no one will forget it. As Pavelski said himself, it was done right.