Sharp a surprise success story for Chicago

Originally published in Eishockey News in 2008

By Lucas Aykroyd

Chicago has hovered close to the bottom of the Western Conference standings for much of this season, but at least Patrick Sharp has blossomed into a leader. He’s posted a club-best six game-winning goals so far. Even after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place on February 10, the 26-year-old right wing led the NHL with seven shorthanded goals and nine shorthanded points. His single tally against Roberto Luongo maintained his position as Chicago’s leading goal-scorer too, as he wired home a shot from the slot on a set-up from Jonathan Toews, the latter playing his first game since suffering a sprained knee versus Los Angeles on January 1. Even though rookies like Toews and Patrick Kane are getting more attention, Sharp is turning out to be one of the best pick-ups Chicago has made in recent years. The 186-cm, 90-kg Thunder Bay native was acquired in 2005 from Philadelphia along with Eric Meloche for Matt Ellison and a third-round pick. Eishockey News caught up with the University of Vermont’s 2002 MVP after the game.

Eishockey News: It didn’t take long for you to rediscover your chemistry with Toews.

Patrick Sharp: He’s a great player. He’s very easy to play with, and he got his timing back as this game went on. He’s going to be a leader for us here down the stretch. Our team is definitely better with him in the lineup. He made a great pass to me to set up my goal tonight.

Eishockey News: You’ve taken some big steps forward this year. At age 26, how much more can you improve?

Sharp: I want to keep getting better and helping my team. I think the coaching staff trusts me in all different situations: PP, penalty kill, even strength. That’s something I take pride in. I’ve been fortunate to score a few goals this year. I don’t know when the next one’s going to come, but I’m just going to keep working hard and shooting the puck every chance I get.

Eishockey News: Are you consciously thinking about scoring more shorthanded goals? It’s become a trademark for you this year.

Sharp: Not really. It’s getting a lot tougher to score shorthanded as the year goes on. I think teams are aware that I like to break out shorthanded, and it’s been a while since I’ve had one. But when I do, it helps the team and it’s a huge momentum swing.

Eishockey News: Your old team in Philadelphia bottomed out last year and has rebounded in a big way this year. What do you think of the direction that organization is taking?

Philly is committed to winning. That’s one thing I learned coming up as a prospect there. I played for the Philadelphia Phantoms in the AHL, and I owe the coaches there a lot. John Stevens was my coach for three years in the minors. Ken Hitchcock and Paul Holmgren really helped my development. They’re a big reason I’m in the NHL today.

Eishockey News:
What does this Chicago team need in order to make a playoff push?

We’ve got to keep fighting. This is our playoffs right here. We can’t take any nights off down the stretch. We’ve got a long way to go, but with the way the NHL standings are now, you can get back in the mix with a couple of winning streaks. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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