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Sharp longs to add gold medal to Stanley Cup title

by Dan Rosen / Chicago Blackhawks

CALGARY -- How badly does Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp want to make the Canada Olympic team?

"The Stanley Cup obviously was a pretty big accomplishment in Chicago, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of that organization to win it again," Sharp said Tuesday night at orientation camp, "but playing internationally for your country, especially defending the gold medal, would be something that is amazing."

So, to qualify what Sharp means, is he saying that making the Olympic team would mean more to him than winning the Stanley Cup?

"That's like saying who do I like better, my wife or my daughter?" said Sharp, whose wife, Abby, is expecting another daughter in early October. "It's two things that would be incredible accomplishments. I'm jealous of [Brent Seabrook] and [Duncan Keith] and [Jonathan Toews]. They were able to win the Cup and the gold in the same year [2010] and I certainly want to be a part of that and I'm going to do whatever I can to make the team this year."

Canada executive director Steve Yzerman said Sharp has the goods to be on the team. Yzerman wouldn't call Sharp a lock to represent the country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but he didn't stray too far from that proclamation.

"A very good chance," Yzerman said of Sharp. "One, he can play all of the three forward positions, which is a great asset. He plays in all situations, power play, penalty killing. He has been on teams that have won Stanley Cups and been an important player. Teams that win, certain traits they have, their players play a certain way and can play in big games and play under pressure and know how to win. He's got all those things going for him."

If you look at the attributes Canada wants its players to have in Sochi, Sharp fits the bill in almost every category: foot speed, defensive awareness, versatility, hockey IQ, winning pedigree, leadership qualities and goal-scoring ability.

"Something I've done early in my career is really focus on being a versatile player and get plugged in wherever the coach wants me to," Sharp said. "I feel like I can play all three forward positions and sometimes I even go back and play defense on the power play. Whatever ways I can be a part of this team I'm willing to do."

Sharp was on Canada's radar for the 2010 team. He participated in orientation camp at Scotiabank Saddledome four years ago, but Sharp, who was 27 years old then, said he never gave himself a legitimate chance to be on that team. He was coming off a 2008-09 season in which he had 26 goals and 44 points in 61 games, a drop from the 36 goals and 26 assists he had over 81 games in 2008-09.

The Stanley Cup obviously was a big accomplishment in Chicago, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of that organization to win it again. But playing internationally for your country, especially defending the gold medal, would be something amazing.Patrick Sharp

"I was excited to be here, but I don't know if I really believed then that I belonged," Sharp said. "I know that's a bad thing to say as a player."

He didn't make it. He didn't even get a call to say he wasn't going to make it.

"I knew they were doing some kind of show to release the names on TV and figured they would notify the guys that were on the team beforehand," Sharp said. "Seeing as I didn't get notified, I put two and two together."

Since then, Sharp has two 30-goal seasons and had a career-high 71 points in 2010-11. He has won the Stanley Cup twice with the Blackhawks, providing a combined 21 goals and 17 assists over the two championship runs.

"This time around, I'm much more confident," Sharp said. "I've played in some pretty serious games. Since 2009 we've gone deep in the playoffs three times and won the Stanley Cup twice, so a lot has changed for my game since then and hopefully I can play well this year and show the coaches and Hockey Canada that I belong."

Listening to Yzerman and others on Tuesday, it doesn't seem like Sharp has to do too much to convince anyone.

"He's a smart player," Sidney Crosby said. "He's fast. He's a right-handed shot. He's proven he can score goals pretty consistently. He's played international hockey. You can go right down the list here at the camp and there are a lot of guys who can be part of this team and he's definitely one of them."

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