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Sharp prepares for next chapter with Stars

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS -- Patrick Sharp's list of accomplishments over 10 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks is impressive.

A key contributor on three Stanley Cup championship teams, including last season, a four-time 30-goal scorer, and 2011 NHL All-Star Game MVP are some of his more pertinent bullet points.

However, all good things must come to an end and on Friday, Sharp, 33, and defenseman Stephen Johns were traded to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt.

"I built a home in Chicago and built a family there. It's going to be an emotional time, but I think my wife and I are excited about the new chapter in our career and our life," Sharp said Saturday. "We consider ourselves very lucky to go into an organization like the Stars have."

Sharp, who had 546 points (249 goals, 277 assists) in 745 games with the Philadelphia Flyers and Blackhawks, is the newest addition to a Dallas top-six which includes captain Jamie Benn, who won the Art Ross Trophy last season with an NHL-leading 87 points; veteran center Jason Spezza; and forward Tyler Seguin, who finished last season tied for fifth in the NHL with 37 goals.

Shar should help bolster a Stars power play that ranked 12th in the League last season.

Dallas general manager Jim Nill likes the winning pedigree and experience Sharp will bring to a young core.

"Well, you could never have enough of those guys in your organization. He's done it at every level. You're talking first of all Stanley Cup, the ultimate championship. You're talking World Championship. You're talking Olympics," Nill said. "He's going to be there to help Jamie Benn, to help Seguin, to help give them insight into situations."

In Dallas, Sharp will be reunited with goaltender Antti Niemi, who was acquired June 27 in a trade with the San Jose Sharks. Sharp and Niemi helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010.

"He's a great teammate, a great goaltender. He competes hard in practice every day and that shows in how he plays in the games as well," Sharp said. "He was a huge part of us winning our first Stanley Cup in Chicago. To be reconnected with Antti is exciting."

Johns had 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 51 games with Rockford in the American Hockey League last season. Nill has known Johns for about six years, meeting him while assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings. After Dallas hired Nill as general manager in April 2013, he continued to track Johns and likes his addition on several levels.

"Well, he's 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He can skate. He plays the game hard. We've got a lot of skill in our lineup and we don't have a lot of that presence," Nill said. "You need to have some of that size and different dimension in the back end, and I think he brings that. The other thing that I love about the young man is he's a leader on and off the ice. He's very respected. He works in the community. He's a character guy through and through, and you can't have enough of those guys in your organization."

Being traded is nothing new for Sharp, who was sent from the Flyers to the Blackhawks on Dec. 5, 2005, another trade he knew was imminent. After rumors swirled this summer about where he would end up, he's happy to finally know he is heading to Dallas.

However, that doesn't make leaving Chicago any easier.

"I knew it was coming. When I was traded from Philadelphia to Chicago, I knew that was coming also," Sharp said. "The conversation with (Blackhawks general manager) Stan (Bowman) was a tough one, just like the one with (Blackhawks coach) Joel Quenneville was. Those guys have done a lot for me in my career over the past 10 years.

"Whenever you leave an organization, there's certainly mixed emotions. I can't say anything bad about the Blackhawks. I really enjoyed my time with the Hawks."

This is the third big trade in as many seasons for Nill in Dallas. In 2013, the Stars acquired Seguin from the Boston Bruins on July 4. Last July, Nill got Spezza in a trade with the Ottawa Senators.

True to form, Nill said being able to make such trades requires a true team effort.

"We've been very fortunate. Scouting staff here, the coaching and player development staff have done a great job of obtaining assets," Nill said. "We've managed our team, our contracts, but we have lots of cap room. [We've] been fortunate to pick up Seguin, fortunate to pick up Spezza, they've added to our core. And now we're able to do this trade to pick up Sharp and a good, young prospect to add to the mix. We just think it helps us get to that next level where we want to get to."

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