Patrick Sharp could use a nap — or at least a schedule to remind him to take one.
“Team Canada laid it out all for us — when to sleep, when to take our sleeping pills, when to take our coffees and all that stuff. I came home and I’m a lost kid,” Sharp said to laughs following Wednesday’s practice. “I thought (coach Joel Quenneville) and (Mike) Kitchen would have put something together for me, just so I could just follow it when to have my nap, when to go to sleep. I came to practice today trying to get back on schedule.”
Sharp’s in the same boat as a lot of Olympic teammates, getting readjusted from the lengthy travel. Where he, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith differ is in the hardware they brought home: it was another gold medal for Toews and Keith and a first for Sharp as part of Team Canada’s powerhouse lineup in Sochi. The Blackhawks returned six medal winners, including these three (Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger claimed silver).
For the two Olympic Canadians who practiced on Wednesday — Duncan Keith did not, instead meeting the team at the airport for their trip to New York — reliving the Olympic experience was understandably pleasant. That goes doubly for Toews, who continues to gather hardware on the NHL and international levels.
“I guess it’s kind of hard to believe now. It seems to be adding up a little bit,” Toews said with a smile. “I think the first opportunity to make the team and to win in Vancouver was amazing. Being back there was just trying to find a way to repeat that. It was such a different experience being over there, a different style of game and all the different things you can talk about how different the Olympics were. But it was a lot of fun. It was amazing to be in a different circumstance and win that tournament again.”
Sharp’s first trip there was rewarding team-wise, but also individually.
“When you play in those games on the big stage you learn a lot about yourself as a player. You kind of tend to improve,” said Sharp, who later elaborated on the improvement. “I just think it’s having the experience of playing in those big games. You learn a lot from playing with great players and the pressure-packed situations. You put that all together, it helps you as a player.”
Sure, Sharp already had that to some degree in helping to win those two Stanley Cups. But playing internationally, and the pressure that Team Canada faces every time it goes to the Olympics, that’s something different and it could help him moving forward.
The Team Canada gents will probably be putting their latest gold medals in a safe place. Sharp’s daughter, Madelyn currently has possession of his — “my wife told my daughter (when) I was coming home that dad’s bringing a shiny necklace home for you. She was excited for it. She’s been playing with it ever since.” Their games, however, won’t be shelved, as they’re back at it Thursday night in New York against the Rangers. It’s time to turn the page back to the Blackhawks’ run to the postseason, and Toews and Sharp are ready to do so.
“The way we came out of the lockout last year, I think we showed maturity. We showed that we’re prepared and that guys were professionals and were ready to play some good hockey. I’m sure it’ll be the same way this time around (out of this break),” Toews said. ”I think — knock on wood — we’ve been healthy; and coming out of the Olympic tournament, we have guys that can carry that momentum, that confidence of playing that high-speed game and bringing it back to Chicago.”