I played against Joe Pavelski in the USHL back in the early 2000s. His Waterloo team ended my junior career in the playoffs.
I played against Joe Pavelski in college three years later in the NCAA Tournament. His Wisconsin Badgers beat us in triple OT to advance to the Frozen Four where they would eventually win the National Championship.
Joe Pavelski was a thorn in my side!! But he is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever played against. And that is why I think he will go down as one of the top American born hockey players in history. With over 350 goals, he can certainly make a case.
But it wasn’t always easy for Joe Pavelski. The knock on him when he was younger was that he couldn’t skate. He still isn’t the prettiest of skaters…but imagine a 7th round draft pick, 205th overall, becoming one of the top American scorers in the history of our game. That’s pretty unbelievable.
And while Joe Pavelski had a major weakness in skating, he made up for it with his grit, hockey sense, work ethic, and above all, a willingness to get to the dirty areas of the rink to score goals. I don’t think there is a better player in the league in front of the net at tipping pucks, corralling rebounds, and finding the back of the net in competitive situations.
And from what I have heard around people that have played with him…this is something that he works on DAILY. Yes, he worked on his weakness (skating). But he also works extremely hard on his strengths, which is his play in front of the net.
That’s something that gets lost a lot when it comes to development. So many people think it’s paramount to work on weaknesses…and while it is important…it’s also paramount to continue to work on the things that you are good at. It’s such a big piece of development. Your strengths can help you stand out to the coach, scout, or recruiter, and can help leverage your play on the ice.
So kids…remember to always recognize not just what you need to improve, but what you are good at…and improve upon that too. It’s worked extremely well for Joe Pavelski, and can for you too!