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Sharp, Keith vie to be EA Sports' latest cover athlete

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp has already defeated teammate Patrick Kane in an advertising-sponsored burrito contest, so why not take on Duncan Keith for the right to grace the cover of a video game?

EA Sports announced on Thursday that fan votes will determine which player winds up gracing the cover of its EA Sports NHL 13 video game, with two players from each team facing each other in the first round of the competition.

Sharp and defenseman Duncan Keith were chosen to face off for the Blackhawks.

"It's pretty special and we'll see how everything plays out," Sharp said after Thursday's morning skate at United Center. "I'm not exactly sure how all the fans vote for it, so maybe I'll get back on the Twitter or something and get my fan base up. But it's a cool competition."

Keith, who didn't participate in the skate and is serving a five-game suspension for an elbowing incident, wasn't available for comment.

The first-round winners from each team will advance into a field of 32 players that includes two "wild card" selections and from there the field will be whittled to a top 16 through voting. That will net a 16-player single-elimination playoff bracket to determine the ultimate cover player.

The Blackhawks have already had star Patrick Kane (2010) and captain Jonathan Toews (2011) on the cover of the EA Sports NHL series, and both said they'd be thrilled to welcome another Chicago star into the club.

"We've had two in the past couple years, so it'd be nice to have another one, I guess, and have the Hawks well-represented," Kane said. "It's a cool game. I remember growing up saying, 'This is a game I want to play with this guy on the cover or that guy on the cover,' and to be one of those athletes was pretty special. It'd be nice to have the Hawks represented again. Hopefully Duncs wins, though. We don't want Sharp to win."

Toews didn't have a rooting interes other than to see another Hawks player showcased.

"It's awesome," he said. "There's been a lot of Hawks on there lately. That'd be cool. It's one of those things that's kind of like a fantasy a little bit. When you get a chance to do it, you don't really believe it's happening, that you've come that far. But you always have that. I always have that [2011 game] sitting next to my DVDs, so it's pretty cool."

Sharp, meanwhile, got in a friendly shot at Kane after hearing his fellow star forward was rooting for Keith.

"I was [into video games] when I was a little kid," Sharp said, smiling. "I used to play a lot of games with my older brother and my friends, but ever since they put Kane on the cover I stopped being a fan."

How about if he wins this competition, though?

"Oh, well then things will change," Sharp said, laughing. "I'll get back into it."

Voting began on Thursday and fans can vote as often as they want at Fans can also get more information at EA Sports' NHL Facebook page and are encouraged to use the hashtag #NHL13Cover on Twitter to support their favorite players.

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