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Blackhawks Magazine: Right man, right place

by Bob Verdi / Chicago Blackhawks

The following is excerpted from the January edition of Blackhawks Magazine. Pick up the latest issue at all Blackhawks home games, starting Jan. 6 vs. Colorado, and at the Blackhawks Store by calling (800) GO-HAWKS.

If you examine the life and times of Patrick Sharp, you are bound to join the chorus about how good things happen to good people. It is also likely that he will ask you to hold the applause and listen up.

"I have been very lucky, and I know it," he says. "Yes, I've worked hard to make it as a pro hockey player, which is all I ever wanted to be. But a lot of guys work hard and, for one reason or another, it doesn't happen to them. I am in a very good place. It can't get much better than this. But I have been very fortunate."

Shortly after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Sharp married Abby, whom he met 10 years ago when they both attended the University of Vermont. Early in December, they experienced a blessed event: the birth of their first child, Madelyn Grace. Two nights later, Sharp scored the game-winning goal in a comeback overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks.

The puck caromed off various body parts, but we've all heard another refrain about how luck is the residue of design. He was the right man in the right place, which is why Sharp autographed a five-year contract last summer, symbolic of his role as a core member on a quality roster.

Patrick Sharp has circled his fair share of red-letter dates. Among them certainly would be Dec. 5, 2005, when he was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers. Sharp was in a hospital undergoing examination of a head injury, and upon hearing the news, one wonders why he didn't ask for two aspirin and hope to sleep it off. Chicago was not exactly a destination point on the NHL map. Alas, the league had just returned from a nuclear winter, and the Blackhawks weren't convinced their dwindling fan base was aware that the lockout had indeed ceased.

"I remember each of us players got a bunch of business cards," he recalls. "You know, 'Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks.' We were supposed to hand them out wherever we went. Restaurants, car wash, whatever. On the back, there was a place where people could contact for two free tickets to selected games. Now you look at our building every night and how hockey has grown in this city, and it's amazing. There's no way anybody could have seen this coming.  We have to appreciate what we have and try to make it even better."

Sharp is the quintessential example why hockey players retain a well-earned reputation as the friendliest professional athletes. He's from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Abby is from Connecticut, but they consider Chicago home, and if he's approached by admirers on the beach or along the street or at the ballpark, Sharp is unfailingly cordial. It's part of the job, he reasons, "except I don't consider it a job. The support we get in this city is tremendous."

Sharp needs no introduction anymore... or business cards. That cover story in Chicago Magazine indentifying him as one of Chicago's 50 most beautiful people elevated his profile - not that his teammates were impressed.

"Oh I knew I'd hear about it," Sharp says. "My mom and wife were all for it, but the response from the guys was predictable. Everywhere I went in the locker room, there was that picture of me. Go to take a shower, there's my picture. Go to the toilet, there's my picture. They gave me the business, but I told the guys, 'If any of you had been asked to do this, you'd have done the same thing.' That put a lid on it. Until I went to take another shower."

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