Joe Pavelski has struggled to watch and read about what has happened in his home state in the past week, starting with the police shooting Aug. 23 of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Pavelski, the Dallas Stars center, is originally from Plover, Wisconsin, approximately three hours northwest of Kenosha. He has a home in McFarland, Wisconsin, about 15 minutes southeast of Madison, Wisconsin, and two hours east of Kenosha.
“It hits a little bit different because you have family back there, you spend the summers back there, it’s going to be home base when all of this is done,” Pavelski said. “So it’s always tough to see something occur and what’s happened, different protests in Madison.”
Protests against systemic racism and police brutality led to two reported deaths in Kenosha. Other protests in Kenosha and Madison have reportedly remained peaceful.
Pavelski and Boston Bruins forward Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wisconsin) are the only two remaining players in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from Wisconsin.
“You follow along, definitely,” Pavelski said. “You understand the impact it has on everyone’s lives. You learn more and more each day. Obviously, it’s tough to see. It’s the place you call home and you don’t like to see things happening like that.”
Pavelski said the hours and days since the Stars’ 6-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday have been different and enlightening.
NHL teams in the playoffs decided against playing games Thursday and Friday as a form of protest against systemic racism and police brutality, joining with athletes from the NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the NFL, who also postponed games or canceled practices.
“We played the game (Wednesday night); right or wrong, it was hard to tell,” Pavelski said. “We kind of just played, lost ourselves in competition and when we got done there was definitely a different feeling that I don’t think I’ve experienced at times after a game. It wasn’t about the win or the loss at that moment. It was just guys sitting around, eating dinner at night and trying to figure out what is all going on, starting the conversations of what’s going to happen in these next few days.
“It’s unique in a sense that we’re in this bubble and we’re together, and for me it’s been good being around teammates, other competitors, learning a little bit more, hearing and being a part of it. You try to educate yourself along the way but there’s always more to come for sure.”
The Stars returned to practice Saturday in preparation to play Game 4 against the Avalanche on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SN1, TVAS). Dallas leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.
“We’re definitely looking forward to tomorrow,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “Before the last game, obviously a lot going on and for me, it was probably one of those games when I felt pretty anxious to play, wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. Couple days to reflect here, we’re definitely looking forward to tomorrow but obviously we know there’s a lot going on in this world.”