Sharp, Blackhawks embrace Chicago with Wrigley Field visit

Sharp, Blackhawks embrace Chicago with Wrigley Field visit
June 6, 2014, 3:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

The 2013-14 NHL season won't end with the Blackhawks hoisting the Stanley Cup for the second straight season — and the third time in five years— but Patrick Sharp and his teammates aren't sitting around and wallowing in defeat.

Sharp, Bryan Bickell, Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Handzus visited Wrigley Field Friday afternoon to take some batting practice and hang out with their families and Cubs players at the Friendly Confines.

The Blackhawks' season ended some six miles south Sunday night in an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Even though the year didn't end the way Sharp or the team wanted it to, they're still thankful for the way the city of Chicago rallied around the organization.

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"We certainly feel [the city was proud of the team]," Sharp said. "Trust me, nobody takes it harder than the fans, the players. We care so much. We want to keep playing; we wish we were playing right now. 

"But to see the amount of support that the fans are giving to not only myself, but the organization is the reason why Chicago is the best place to play hockey. They're proud of the team and that means a lot to us as players."

On a beautiful, cloudless day on Chicago's North Side, Sharp brushed off questions about injury suspicions during the Blackhawks' playoff run and enjoyed taking batting practice at the 100-year-old ballpark.

"I did OK," he said of his BP performance. "A little disappointing. Better the second time through. I hit a couple to the warning track. Thought maybe I could hit one out. The wind must be blowing in because I didn't get one out.

"I think Bicksy (Bickell) hit one off the wall. You've gotta have some respect for these guys. ... I can only image a real pitcher throwing it 95 mph with movement and all that stuff. It was a fun experience."

Sharp played baseball until he was 15 and said he was a pitcher, but really liked playing center field where he could "run around and dive and let the ball get a little bit ahead of you so you can make a sliding catch."

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The Canadian native admitted the weather and environment in his hometown wasn't all that conducive to baseball, though.

"It wasn't the strongest baseball program in Thunder Bay, Ontario," he laughed. "My dad was my coach. I have a lot of great memories playing baseball. Probably my favorite sport, but it just so happens I'm a little bit better at hockey than baseball."

The Blackhawks have spent some time at both baseball parks in Chicago, famously bringing the Stanley Cup to Wrigley in 2010 during the Crosstown series.

Sharp has also taken batting practice on the South Side at U.S. Cellular Field and even hit a home run, but this was his first on-field action at Wrigley.

"It's a pretty cool experience," he said. "I didn't hit one out of here, so I gotta come back one of these days and make sure I hit one out."

You can check out the pictures below, courtesy of the Cubs official Instagram account: