Joe Pavelski is one of the most respected veterans in the NHL today and as he proved in the playoffs last year, the Dallas Stars right winger can still be a difference-maker on the ice.
Off the ice, Pavelski is also hoping to make a difference with TorchPro, a new digital media platform that connects pro hockey players with fans and future NHL hopefuls.
"Originally, the ultimate goal was about sharing information," Pavelski said. "Whether it was through stories or drills, how could we have a digital camp? I had a hockey school in my college days and it was always a fun week - you bring in a couple buddies, teach kids and have some fun."
Eventually, Pavelski's career aspirations pulled him away from the brick-and-mortar camp and he didn't want to be that guy that just slaps his name on something if he wasn't actually going to be there all the time. Now, he's getting the chance to recreate that feeling in a digital space, where he can reach untold numbers of people.
For Pavelski, the Internet and social media have provided an incredible tool for spreading knowledge, something that just wasn't available to him as a kid.
"Growing up, we watched games on TV," he said. "But there was no social media and you really didn't have any access to pros in terms of how they practised or what their mindset was. You could maybe catch an interview and hopefully get a little information here and there, but never how to shoot a puck or the drills they did - I loved how Brett Hull shot a puck, for example. So we're trying to develop a platform where we can give more access to some of these top athletes."
Along with Pavelski, some of TorchPro's experts include Boston's Charlie McAvoy, Buffalo's Riley Sheahan and Team USA's Kacey Bellamy (currently playing on the Dream Gap tour). The idea behind Torch Pro from an athlete's perspective is to give these players a trustworthy spot to share their stories and deliver their messages to fans and young players.
Pavelski loves the idea of growing hockey culture and helping the next generation develop and he's quite impressed with how they are positioning themselves right now in a world full of possibility.
"Kids are focused on a sport from a young age and they develop unbelievable skills," he said. "They're getting all this information on how to practise or how a certain player does it and with that knowledge, they fall in love with the game and with practice. So you get these players who are so prepared now and it's about cultivating that. And that's what we're trying to do, is pass along information and develop."
TorchPro is a free platform with drills and tips on the pro mindset, not to mention the Morning Blitz newsletter, which provides links to sports stories. Pavelski sees an evolving hockey culture where players are a lot more willing to share what they do now and he's very excited about it. For him, the word 'discipline' has been a touchstone.
"Just the discipline to get out and work, and get in the action rather than just thinking about it," he said. "You never know what switch will get flipped for a kid."
It's all about getting better and helping others get better for Pavelski and the platform is opening his eyes, too - he didn't necessarily know the other expert players personally, but TorchPro is giving him that chance, whether it's other NHLers or Olympians like Bellamy.
"The women's game is growing," Pavelski said. "And what these women have to go through - playing for the love of the game and some of their struggles and successes, that's pretty cool to see as well."
With great teammates and the drive that has made him a distinguished NHLer for a long time, Pavelski seems to have found his calling off the ice, as well.