The stakes are enormous for Pavelski, and not just on the ice, where he’s determined to deliver San Jose’s first N.H.L. championship. Ask the team’s television analyst, Jamie Baker, who reports on the game from ice level. Baker, 52, a retired center, stepped away from his broadcasting duties last year to seek treatment for depression, impulsivity and suicidal thoughts, all of which he said had plagued him for years. Baker said that he had sustained several concussions during his playing career, which included 187 games with the Sharks, and that they seemed to have exacerbated his mental-health struggles.
Any uneasiness that Baker felt about Pavelski’s quick return from his head injury evaporated in the first period of Pavelski’s first game, when he was knocked to the ice by the Avalanche’s Ian Cole, who was called for interference.
“He got thrown down pretty hard,” Baker said. “I watched him getting up, I literally got to see his face, and I could tell he was O.K. That’s the test, because the one thing you’re not going through in practice is the extreme pace of an N.H.L. game and the physicality.”
After Saturday’s game, a towering tattooed man — wearing a bejeweled ring that drew the eye away from his body art — stood outside the Sharks’ dressing room waiting for Pavelski. He was Scott Parker, a member of the 2001 Stanley Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche, who appeared in 11 games for the Sharks in 2006-07, Pavelski’s rookie season.
In a 2013 interview with The Denver Post, Parker described experiencing short-term memory loss, sensitivity to light, nausea and dizziness — all symptoms that have been linked to repeated head trauma.
Nevertheless Parker, 41, said he was pleased to see Pavelski back on the ice.
“It’s Pavs,” Parker said, grinning. “There’s nobody like him.”