NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With ..." is back for the 2013-14 season. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them poignant questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the states of their teams.
CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp has gone from an American Hockey League call-up the Philadelphia Flyers felt was expendable eight years ago to a three-time 30-goal scorer and two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks.
He hopes to add Canadian Olympian to his resume this season and knows he has the first three months of the season to prove to the national team executives and coach Mike Babcock why they should take him to Sochi, Russia, in February.
Sharp talked to NHL.com about his rise, his goals, his training, his motivation and his confidence heading into a new season, which for the Blackhawks starts Tuesday at United Center against the Washington Capitals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Here are Five Questions With … Patrick Sharp:
Do you ever look back at your time in Philadelphia and wonder, 'How the heck did I get here?'
"Yeah, all the time. It seems like growing up I was never the best player, never a dominant player, never that kid that everyone said was going to go to the NHL. But I used to always focus on getting to that next level. Once I started playing pro hockey, my goal was to be an everyday NHL player and not have to worry about getting called up and sent down every day like I was for a couple of years there. That has happened, but even at age 31, I feel there are a few more steps I can take."
Like what? What else can you do?
"I think my individual production could go up. I think continuing to be on a winning team helps a lot. I want to be the guy that coaches look at that can play in every situation. Those are things that mean a lot to me and something I'm working toward."
Sometimes after winning the Cup guys can get complacent, but you came into camp and beat out everyone in the Blackhawks' fitness testing. How did you avoid that complacency when celebrating the championship?
"Every year I try to show up in camp in good shape, but I've been chasing Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson in the fitness stuff for a few years, so it was nice to finally catch them. I just feel like I'm getting older and stronger. I've had a good trainer for the past few years and we've been building for the past few years. It's no different than any other year, except maybe I'm just in a bit better shape this time."
Have you ever felt as good as you do now?
"Nope. I feel confident. I feel good about the group we have, with a lot of returning players from the playoffs. In practices right now it feels like we're in the middle of the Stanley Cup Final again. We're just picking up where we left off. Guys are playing their same roles, same lines pretty much. We're excited, and then individually, I feel healthy, I feel strong and I feel confident. I'm looking forward to starting the season."
How much motivation did you get in your training this summer knowing how important the first three months of the season are for you if you want to make the Canadian Olympic team?
"I'm definitely motivated for that. It's something that is on the radar. But to be honest with you, I want to get off to a good start with the Blackhawks first. I want to show the coaches that I can play in all situations. I want to take my individual game to another level. I still feel I can do that. That's what I'm looking forward to. The rest of the stuff we can talk about, but if it happens, it happens."