How many players get to be part of taking a franchise from embarrassing afterthought to beloved champion? Patrick Sharp did a lot of things during a decade with the Chicago Blackhawks that are worth remembering, but nothing comes close to his role in making the team what it is now.
Sharp arrived in the middle of a 25-43-13 season for the Blackhawks in 2005-06. His teammates included a 22-year-old Duncan Keith and a 20-year-old Brent Seabrook, the earliest seeds of what would eventually become the greatest core assembled in the salary cap era. Their early struggles would help position the team to draft Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and once those two arrived in 2007-08, the ascent began in earnest.
Those other names -- Toews, Kane, Keith -- always overshadowed Sharp, earning the awards and praise and reservations in the United Center rafters. It's almost fitting that his trade would be announced unceremoniously on a Friday evening. Never quite the one to earn the spotlight during his team in Chicago, he wouldn't get it on his way to Dallas, either.
Still, a look back at Sharp's time in Chicago places him as one of the city's greatest athletes of this generation. Maybe he's not on the level of Toews or Kane, but in a town that sometimes still feels like it's trying to shake out of the shadow of Michael Jordan, Sharp's had an amazing, special career. Blackhawks players are treated like rock stars in Chicago now, and that's largely because guys like Sharp are rock stars. So in honor of an awesome decade together, here are some of my favorite memories:
The four-point game vs. Vancouver, 2010 playoffs
Sharp's greatest single-game playoff performance came during a series that arguably marks the team's real arrival as a force to be reckoned with. The Blackhawks rebounded from a 5-1 loss to the Sedin-powered Canucks in Game 1 to win three straight and take control of the series, with Sharp leading the way in a 7-4 Game 4 win. The forward scored a goal and dished three assists, supporting an utterly masterful effort from Jonathan Toews -- three goals, two assists (damn dude) -- to beat Roberto Luongo. In the 2010 playoffs, Sharp recorded a point in 15 of 22 games.
The Wild beatdown, 2013 playoffs
This was Sharp at the height of his powers. Six points in the final four games of the series -- a 4-1 Blackhawks win -- including two game-winning goals and an assist on a goal that forced overtime in another game. He's not quite at his peak anymore in 2015, but there aren't many players who could combine his skating, shooting and smart positioning with such consistency in the playoffs. He ended up leading the postseason that year with 10 goals and 91 shots on goal as the Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup.
Patrick Sharp is ... Batman
Certainly not the most terrible casting idea in that video, although I think Sharp is way too happy to be Dark Knight.
Back to hockey! Sharp's smart positioning is a big part of why the team always loved him, and it also led a whole bunch of breakaway opportunities. Here are some of the best ones (that I could find online):
I could watch him score breakaways against the Blues all day long. Now let's hope Artemi Panarin can translate this from the KHL:
I wonder if Toews has smiled yet?— Patrick Sharp (@10PSharp) July 9, 2014
Bishooooops goal vs. Lightning
Sometimes when you're good, you're also lucky, too. His final goal in a Blackhawks uniform:
Sharp at the 2015 Cup rally
What's Your Goal: Sharp making it dusty in here
This one might honestly be my favorite.
There are so, so many more things that I've missed, because that's what happens you forge a special bond with a city through 10 years of amazing triumphs and occasional missteps. Sharp will never be remembered as the man who transformed Chicago hockey, not on a team that was forced to trade him to pay for raises to transcendent future Hall of Famers, but to a degree, that's what he was. It takes a lot of people to turn the Blackhawks into what they've become, and Patrick Sharp is near the top of the list. Whether his best days are behind him or he finds new life in Dallas, he will be missed here in Chicago. Luckily, we had a pretty kickass run.
I'm sure all of you have your own special memories of Sharp's time with the Hawks, too, so feel free to share them in the comments!