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Tapped In: Sharp embraces life in Windy City

by Kathryn Tappen

He may be considered one of Chicago's sexiest athletes as voted by publications on multiple occasions, but Patrick Sharp is all about hockey. The father of two baby girls, Sharp has two Stanley Cups, will represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and serves as a radio host. Yet, somehow the Chicago Blackhawks star still has time to give back to the community where he grew up. There's not much Sharp hasn't accomplished.

Kathryn Tappan: What is the best part about playing hockey in Chicago?

Patrick Sharp: The fans. The city is great, there's so much to do. But the way the fans respond to the players, especially for guys like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and I that were here in 2005 when things weren't so good in Chicago. We really appreciate how the fans take care of us now.

In addition to being considered Chicago's sexiest athlete, Patrick Sharp is also a humanitarian and Olympian. (Photo: Bill Smith/NHLI)

KT: Two Stanley Cups for you in that city. Do you ever pinch yourself with what you've already accomplished in your career?

PS: It's not so much the Stanley Cups we've won, but I'm shocked a little bit with how things have played out here in Chicago. It's been such a turnaround in the eight years that I've been a Hawk. To see the games are sold out now. When I first got here there were maybe 10,000 people in the seats. Now, the Hawks are the hottest ticket in Chicago. So that's been the biggest surprise for me.

KT: You now will add Olympian to your resume to go along with the two Cups. Describe the honor of being named to the 2014 Canadian Olympic hockey team.

PS: I'm excited. I played for Team Canada twice before in the World Championships, but not at the Olympic level. That has definitely been a personal goal of mine to try and make that team. It's quite an honor to make it and I know it's a very difficult team to make. I'm excited to go to Sochi, do the best I can, and do whatever the team wants me to do to bring back that gold medal.

KT: It's a long flight to Sochi. Have you given much thought to how you're going to kill time on the flight?

PS: I hope I can sleep as best as I can. I want to make sure I get adjusted to the time difference as best as possible. Coming from Thunder Bay, Ontario, I spent a lot of times sleeping in the car driving to hockey tournaments on eight- to 12-hour rides. Nothing new to me!

KT: Who are you most looking forward to playing with on Team Canada?

PS: Sidney Crosby. It'll be fun to watch him and learn from him at the same time. Aside from that, definitely the other Blackhawks. I'm excited that Jon's [Toews] going over again and Duncan. It's cool that the three of us get to go over and represent the Hawks for Team Canada.

KT: You're going to have a handful of Hawks teammates to play against as well. Who are you most looking forward to facing as an opponent?

PS: We have 10 guys going over. I guess I have to say Patrick Kane, right? He's a tough guy to play against. He's pretty sneaky out there. But I consider him a great friend, almost like a little brother. I think with the Americans it will be fun to line up against Kaner.

KT: Who was your favorite player growing up?

PS: I grew up in Thunder Bay so there was no real hometown team. My favorite player was Mike Modano of the Minnesota North Stars. I just loved the way he played the game.

KT: You have had the opportunity to play against Modano in your career. How exciting was that for you?

PS: I played against him a bunch of times, and he actually signed a jersey for me when I was 16 years old! I met him after his final regular-season game in Detroit, he was waiting in the hallway and I just had a few words with him, so that was really cool.

KT: Tell me about your annual summer golf tournament back home in Thunder Bay where proceeds benefit the George Jeffrey Children's Centre.

PS: The tournament is held back in Thunder Bay. My parents and family back home do a lot of work with that center all year long. We try to put a good event together by hosting the celebrity golf tournament. It's something I enjoy being a part of. After my first Stanley Cup championship I stopped by the Children's Centre with the Stanley Cup. To see how happy the families and the kids were to see me with the Stanley Cup, it was pretty special. I thought if I could make an impact in the short visit, what could we do if we put some hard work in and put an event together? The Centre is a place that helps out children and their families.

KT: You have your hands full off the ice, with two little girls, Madelyn and Sadie, both under the age of three. How is it in a household of girls?!

PS: Thank God our basset hound dog is a male! I've got another man around the house to hang with. I always knew I would be a father one day, but I never pictured myself as a father of two girls. But it's the best thing that ever happened to me. It changed my life. It has certainly softened me up and changed the way I look at things in my life.

KT: It's changed your game too. There's a synergy that comes along with the girls' birthdays, and even yours. Bear with me here for a minute: Your first game after Sadie was born on Oct. 13, 2013, you scored a goal in regulation (and your 200th career NHL goal) and the shootout-winning goal. First game after Madelyn's birthday this season (the day after her Dec. 9 birthday) you had two goals in Dallas. Then on your birthday, Dec. 27, you scored three goals, becoming the first Blackhawks player to net a hat trick on his birthday and first in the NHL to net a birthday hat trick since 2002. Your first game after Madelyn was born, you scored the overtime winner at home against San Jose on Dec. 11, 2011. Wow!

PS: There's got to be something to it. Both times when my daughters were born I got the feeling that you're not thinking of hockey. You're so thankful that everyone is healthy; you're on top of the world. Both times they were born I played a hockey game shortly thereafter. The first one I didn't play very well, my head was in the clouds. But then I scored the overtime goal to win the game. The second time with Sadie I was excited to play and thought maybe I could score a goal here for my daughter. I scored one in the game, and then the shootout winner as well. It's crazy how those things play out, a little bit of luck, but I was excited both times that's for sure.

KT: One day your daughters will read that you were Victoria's Secret "Chicago's Sexiest Athlete" in 2009 and in 2011 named to "50 Most Beautiful Chicagoans." Who is your publicist?!

PS: [laughs] I can't do an interview without talking about that, that's for sure. Guys have been killing me about it every year. That story never seems to go away. I tried to hide the magazine covers. But they do such a great job at marketing our team. I've been on a few magazine covers and I try to collect them to send to my mom because she's probably the most proud of me on those covers. I don't want the guys to get a hold of them.

KT: Your talents go way beyond the ice, too. Tell me about the radio show you have in Chicago, making appearances on "The Eric and Kathy Morning Show" on WTMX 101.9 FM going on five years now?

PS: It's something that I started, as you said, five years ago. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. It was just a bi-weekly phone call talking to the hosts for five to seven minutes. We'd talk about everything from off-ice to what the Hawks were doing on the ice. It grew into something where the show is really popular. I am happy to be a part of it. It seems like when I walk around the city of Chicago more people recognize me from being on that show than playing hockey for the Blackhawks.

KT: You have listeners to the show in Australia, which is incredible! Tell me about the way you made the dream of longtime Hawks fan, Warwick Cuthbert, come true.

PS: Warwick is from Australia, and is a huge Bulls and Hawks fan, so he took a vacation to Chicago by himself so he could catch six Blackhawks games and six Bulls games. It was great the way the schedule worked out for him. He said his favorite Blackhawk was me, from listening to the show all the way in Australia. So I met him at the game, had a locker-room tour with him, spent some time with him. He's a great guy.

KT: Before I let you go: After you return from Sochi, you will play in the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Soldier Field against the Penguins. How excited are you for that game?

PS: It seems like every year when you play in Chicago, there are a handful of games that are big games and turn into big events. I played at Wrigley Field, which was definitely one of them. We haven't played in an outdoor game since. I'm excited that right after I get back from the Olympics, not only to play at Soldier Field in front of a huge crowd and honor our United States soldiers, but to play against a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins and all those great players; it's going to be very special. There are a couple of great weeks coming up for the Blackhawks, and myself personally, and I'm excited for it.

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