SAN JOSE -- Similar to the earliest moments of his NHL career, Joe Pavelski again leaned on Patrick Marleau for veteran guidance.
Last July, Pavelski switched teams for the first time, leaving the Sharks after 963 games over 13 seasons with the franchise to sign with the Dallas Stars.
Marleau, who's back in San Jose after a two-year stay in Toronto, gave Pavelski some sound advice ahead of his free-agent move to the Lone Star State.
" 'It’s probably going to take longer than you thought, so be patient in a lot of ways,' " Pavelski said Friday in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview. “I would say he was fairly accurate with that.
“I knew going in if you could get off to a good start, it would build some confidence, take care of some things. We did not."
The Stars started 2-7-1, but they're now second in the Central Division. And on Saturday night, Pavelski, the former Sharks captain who has eight goals and 10 assists in 44 games for Dallas, returns to oppose a San Jose team that's facing uncharacteristic struggles.
Pavelski called it “a tough year to date” for the Sharks, who own the Western Conference's third-worst record at 20-22-4. He has been watching the games on television, and he also keeps in regular contact with many of his old teammates and friends.
“There’s too much skill and character in that room not to have a little run here, and bounce back quick,” Pavelski said. “There’s always that stretch you’re looking at, last week six or seven points out of a [playoff] spot, you’re like, ‘Why not?' "
There's no denying the awkwardness that will ensue Saturday, even after the puck drops at SAP Center. But that’s an expected human reaction for a homegrown product who might have saved his most memorable times with the franchise for last.
“Being able to wave to the fans [in Game 5 of a second-round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche], and then come back for Game 7 and score a goal, those were pretty emotional moments for me," Pavelski said. "Those were something when I went back home, it was a tough time sleeping because you were so full of emotions."
Pavelski has gone from his Midwestern roots to becoming a family man in California, to now transitioning into a full-blown Texan. His recent experience playing in the NHL Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl certainly reinforced that.
“We got nice belt buckles, and boots, and hats," Pavelski said. "So that’s pretty good. They did a tremendous job. That was so good.”
Watch the entire 1-on-1 interview with Pavelski in the video player below.