Patrick Sharp has a pretty enviable life.
The Chicago Blackhawks forward is fresh off celebrating his second Stanley Cup, and his production in the postseason was pivotal. He was tops among his teammates in the pre-training camp physical testing, had a great camp and he and his wife will welcome their second child any day now.
“It’s a good time to be me, I guess,” Sharp said. “I’m lucky.”
Luck has only a small part to do with it, however. Sharp’s career is what it is because of his hard work and his determination. His 2012-13 regular season was a tough one, as he spent a good deal of it sidelined by a shoulder injury. But he took off in the postseason, recording 10 goals and six assists in 23 games. And that is what Sharp wants to build off of in 2013-14.
“I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off in the playoffs last year, not only offensively but defensively and just being good and responsible in all areas,” said Sharp, who had five shots on goal, and three hits, in the Blackhawks’ 6-4 victory over Washington on Tuesday.
“Had a couple of scoring chances. I probably could’ve skated a little better, could’ve been involved physically a little more but for the first game we’ll take it,” Sharp said. “But I’m definitely planning to be better moving forward.”
It’s interesting that Sharp knocked his own skating on Tuesday, since that’s what coach Joel Quenneville said he’s elevated this season.
“He’s skating as good as I’ve ever seen him skate. Every single time he’s a hit the ice he’s at a different pace,” Quenneville said of Sharp. “He’s approached the season in a positive way. We expect him to produce at a nice rate but we like what he’s bringing with his speed. It’s been very noticeable.”
Sharp had a tough go in 2012-13, when a shoulder injury sidelined him for more than a month in the lockout-shortened season. He was still nearly at a point a game, with 20 points in the 28 games he played. Now healthy and with a full slate of games, Sharp could again score 30-plus goals much like he did in 2010-11 and 11-12.
The Blackhawks’ left wing is in a good place right now. At 31 he’s won two Cups. He’s got a chance to make the 2014 Team Canada roster and perhaps play in the Winter Olympics for the first time in his career. Health is great. Family is great – and growing. Sharp is ready to add another fine season to all of that, and there’s no reason to think he can’t.
“It’s pretty good time in my life, I can’t argue that. Personally, everything’s going well, too,” he said. “Playing for the Blackhawks is pretty special. They’ve taken care of us. And being a part of such a great team with a chance to win every year is more than I could ask for.”