In this edition of the "85 Years" series, Blackhawks color analyst Eddie Olczyk discusses Patrick Sharp's tenure in Chicago.
As a former player, you can look around the room and know which guys you’d want to have had as a teammate, not just as a friend but as a player as well. Patrick Sharp has both qualities in excess; he’s one of the franchise’s best scorers in recent memory and one of the locker room leaders. From where I sit now, I respect and admire his game and the person he is.
If there’s one part of Sharpie’s game that sticks out to me, it’s his play off the puck. He’s so aware of where he is on the ice and how to get into scoring position or deny an opportunity for the other team. I think his play away from the puck has made him an outstanding two-way player. His versatility makes him so valuable.
For years now, Blackhawks fans have seen Sharpie grow and become the player he is, but I think he’s only recently appeared on the national radar. The Cup in 2010 was a huge boost, but he had accomplished so much even before he came to Chicago, in both Philly and in the American Hockey League.
When Patrick first donned the Indian Head sweater, the team gained a skilled player and a leader as well. Sharpie is a great individual, and I enjoy getting to know him as a guy and as an athlete. He brings humility, an understanding of knowing what to say and when to say it, and he’s a leader.
Some guys feel very comfortable just being great players, but they don’t always want to lead. Some players will lead but aren’t very vocal. Sharpie has learned and absorbed and watched a lot of guys who have helped mold him, and he has become a leader on this team.
I’m a big believer in how he treats people. I see how he understands what it is to be a Blackhawk and what it is to be a pro, and he takes great pride in that. He’s always a class act wherever he goes, and he shows respect for the game whether he’s among peers, media or fans.
I don’t think you can undersell the importance of winning the Stanley Cup when you talk about Sharpie’s place in Chicago. Everybody that plays on a championship team is a piece of the puzzle, and everyone contributes in some way. If you’re an honest person, if you’re upfront and play hard, you hold a special place in fans’ hearts. Sharpie understands that and has never taken that for granted.
Years from now, when Sharpie’s career is done, I think he will have a couple of legacies in Chicago. I have everybody telling me how handsome he is, and that’s probably one thing—I’m very comfortable in saying that Sharpie is a good-looking human. But I will always think of him as an honest guy and an honest player who did whatever the Blackhawks needed of him. He represents the Blackhawks and the city of Chicago to the highest pinnacle that there could be.
What more could you ask of anyone?