Every once in a while, Patrick Sharp takes a moment to take in all he’s done in his NHL career.
“You look at it in a couple of different ways,” he said. “Individually, I look at how my career’s gone up to this point. I started out just trying to be an NHL player. I also think of how things were as an organization back then until now…”
Sharp and the Blackhawks are similar in a lot of ways: both were trying to establish (or in the Blackhawks’ case, re-establish) themselves in the mid-2000s, and both couldn’t be thriving more than they are today. It’s been a win-win situation for Sharp and the Blackhawks these past few seasons. Sharp’s become another superstar on a team full of them, and he continues to put up stellar numbers this season.
Those around Sharp aren’t too surprised as his recent success.
“His ability’s always been there. It’s more that his confidence has come a long way now. Instead of just thinking he may be good, now he is good and knows it,” Kris Versteeg said. “He’s a player who, when he gets the puck, he’ll make things happen.”
Sharp has made a lot happen in 2013-14. He scored his 26th goal of the season on Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings, and is now just 10 goals away from tying his career high (set in 2007-08).
“This year’s been the best year,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s scored some big goals, he’s offensively dangerous and he has the puck a lot. Whether it’s improvement or evolving in his game, we like where he’s at.”
Sharp certainly had the built-in motivation this season with the Winter Olympics. He downplayed his desire to play for Team Canada before he was selected earlier this month, but there was never a doubt it fueled the fire. It’s been doing so for about four years now, since he saw Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook play for gold in Vancouver.
“It’s something I was definitely working toward, not just this season but since the last time,” Sharp said of Team Canada winning gold in 2010. “I watched the last game and I really wanted to be a part of it. It was a long four years, I won a few (Stanley) Cups and played a lot of big games. To have reached that level, it means a lot to me personally.”
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Sharp is far removed from that guy who was uncertain of the kind of NHL career he would have. Much like the organization for which he plays, he’s had a wealth of success these past few seasons. As Versteeg said, the talent was always there; the confidence is now, too.
“It just comes with growing up,” Sharp said. “I’ve been through hot and cold streaks many times in my career, so I’ve been a lot of different situations. You draw from that experience and don’t let it bother you as much. You don’t get as high when things are going well, you don’t get as low when things aren’t. That gives you confidence in a special way.”