As Hawks attest, no one can doubt Sharp now
The arrival of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in Chicago couldn't have been splashier.
Pretty much all that was missing from the unveiling of the Blackhawks' future stars were a couple spotlights crisscrossing the skies above the United Center to announce their arrival.
Not unexpected, and certainly not unwarranted considering the two teens were the ones carrying the hopes of someday leading the Hawks to the promised land.
The arrival of Patrick Sharp a few years earlier, in December 2005, was just a titch more low-key.
Coming over from Philadelphia in exchange for Matt Ellison, Sharp was an unknown commodity whom then-Hawks general manager Dale Tallon hoped might blossom in new surroundings.
It also led to an unintentionally funny quote from Tallon, in hindsight, of course.
"Sharp is a good skater and a solid two-way player who fits into our plans for the future," Tallon said at the time. "We hated to give up Matt Ellison, but Patrick Sharp gives us that dimension of speed and skill that we need."
Um, it didn't take long to get over losing Ellison, who ended up playing just seven games for the Flyers before toiling in the AHL and eventually the KHL the remainder of his career.
Meanwhile Sharp, a third-round round pick sans the pedigree of Toews and Kane, would work his way from obscurity into one of the game's top offensive performers, so far garnering 224 goals and 454 points in his career, which includes parts of three seasons in Philadelphia and now his ninth with the Hawks.
"I don't want to say that some players get labeled a certain way, but when you're a high draft pick, you're kind of in the spotlight early on in your career," Toews said. "People just tend to expect a certain performance from a guy like that.
"For Sharpie, it's been kind of different in his career. People doubted him and maybe not really respected him for the skills and ability he really has.
"You really see it in the last five or six years I've been on this team -- he tries to prove himself every single year."
And this season, which began with dream of finally getting the call to play for Team Canada in the Olympics, the Sharp-shooter has upped the "prove it" factor yet another notch, blasting out of the gates with a team-high 25 goals en route to 49 points in 49 games, second only to Kane in that department.
And all that hard work paid off big time when Sharp, 32, got the call last week informing him that he indeed would be representing Canada in Sochi.
"I like to bug him by saying he's got a chip on his shoulder, but it's been a great thing," Toews said. "He's motivated to get better and better, and it's nice to see him finally get to that level. To be representing Team Canada at the Olympics is pretty amazing stuff. He definitely deserves it."
So now Sharp's long, strange trip continues when he joins Kane, Toews and a plethora of other Hawks in Russia in less than a month.
"I heard a comment the other day from (former Flyers coach) John Stevens when they had him in Philly and someone asked him 'Did you know what you had in Patrick Sharp?' And he said 'Yeah, kinda, but we didn't realize how much he loves the game,'" Kane said. "I think that says certain things about Sharpie.
"He cares about the game and he wants to do well."