SAN JOSE – Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski joked Wednesday he might come back and play in the Sharks’ alumni game on Feb. 24, the night before the organization retires Patrick Marleau’s No. 12 jersey.
Pavelski isn’t that much younger than some of the retired Sharks’ legends of yesteryear slated to be on the ice that night, but he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Now at age 38 and in his 17th season in the league, Pavelski, the Sharks’ former captain, is still playing at a point-per-game pace. Entering Wednesday’s game against the Sharks at SAP Center, Pavelski, now in his fourth year in Dallas, has with 14 goals and 44 points in 45 games, tied for 37th-best in the NHL.
The only other 35-and-older NHL players who were inside the top 40 in scoring before Wednesday were Hockey Hall of Fame-bound players Alex Ovechkin (52 points) and Sidney Crosby (49).
“Health is a big part of it,” Pavelski said of his consistency at this stage of his career. “Just really enjoy the game – get out there and work on a few things. We‘ve got a fun group.”
Pavelski, a seventh-round by the Sharks in 2003, was playing in his 1,214th NHL game Wednesday. He had 81 points in 82 games last season and had 968 points for his career.
“I think I understood early in my career, being around (Joe Thornton) and (Marleau) and all those guys, that if you want to make a career out of it, do as much as you can to stay here as long as you can, and then just want more,” Pavelski said.
“There are all types of things that play into that, but you’re just trying to get better, you enjoy it, enjoy the guys you’re working with trying to be there for them.”
Going into Wednesday, the Stars, with new coach Pete DeBoer, were tied for first place in the Central Division with the Winnipeg Jets with 59 points. Seven of Pavelski’s goals this season have been on the power play as the Stars came into Wednesday ranked fourth in the NHL with the man advantage at 27.1 percent.
DeBoer, the Sharks’ coach from May 2015 to Dec. 2019, was hired by the Stars on June 22, just over five weeks after he was fired by the Vegas Golden Knights on May 16.
SCRATCHED AGAIN: Winger Kevin Labanc was scratched for the second straight game Wednesday as Sharks coach David Quinn kept the same forward lines he had from Monday, a 4-3 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils.
Labanc had been playing right wing on the Sharks’ top line with Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl for the majority of the season. But for now, that spot is occupied by recent waiver claim Mikey Eyssimont, who had two assists in Monday’s loss.
Labanc had four points in six games this month and was sixth on the Sharks with 25 points in 43 games before Monday. But Quinn feels that Labanc’s all-around play needs to improve.
“From some of the conversations we’ve had, he feels like he’s playing a little bit better than we do,” Quinn said this week of Labanc. “It’s the player valuing everything that we value, is really what it comes down to from an individual standpoint.
“This is no different than most players, a lot of players have that approach. And you’re always kind of always trying to get everybody seeing the game in the same light.”
The Sharks start a five-game road trip Friday in Columbus.
KUNIN HOPEFUL: Sharks forward Luke Kunin, now more than five weeks removed from major knee surgery, is hopeful that he’ll be ready for the start of training camp in September.
“That’s the goal,” Kunin said Wednesday.
Kunin, 25, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee in the first period of the Sharks’ Dec. 13 game against Arizona at SAP Center, as he attempted to check Coyotes defenseman Patrik Nemeth in the neutral zone. Kunin had surgery a week later.
The Sharks have gone 3-7-4 without Kunin as they entered Wednesday with a 13-23-9 record.
“Just a hockey play. I went to hit the guy and I think I just kind of got caught maybe. Just kind of a freak thing,” Kunin said of December’s accident. “Unfortunately, that stuff happens and I can’t really think too much about it. Just got to move on and get better.”
Kunin, acquired from the Nashville Predators in July and subsequently signed to a two-year, $5.5 million deal, also tore his left ACL in March 2018 when he was with the Minnesota Wild. He was able to return for the start of the following season, but the rehab wasn’t easy.
“I know mentally and physically the grind that it is,” Kunin said. “There’s going to be ups and downs. Just try to be as even-keeled as possible and be consistent with it.”
TRADE: The Sharks on Wednesday traded center Jasper Weatherby to the Detroit Red Wings for veteran forward Kyle Criscuolo, 30, who is in his seventh full professional season and will report to the Barracuda.
Weatherby, who turns 25 on Sunday, is in his second full pro season. He made the Sharks’ roster out of training camp in 2021 and had 11 points in 50 NHL games, but after the organization added some more experienced forwards in the offseason, he was assigned to the Barracuda on Oct. 1 after camp and has not been back.
Weatherby, a Sharks 2018 fourth-round draft pick and a pending restricted free agent, has six points in 39 AHL games this season.
Criscuolo, listed at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, had 10 points in 28 games for Grand Rapids.