Rozner: Sharp secures special place in Blackhawks history

 
 
Updated 3/25/2018 7:47 AM
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  • Patrick Sharp, seen here with his daughter Madelyn after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2015, played a huge role in the team's past three titles even though he often flew under the radar.

      Patrick Sharp, seen here with his daughter Madelyn after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2015, played a huge role in the team's past three titles even though he often flew under the radar. Barry Rozner | Staff Photographer

One by one, the Magnificent Seven will move on.

Niklas Hjalmarsson is gone, Marian Hossa is retired and Patrick Sharp has departed and returned.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will all be back with the Blackhawks, barring a shocking development, but this appears to be the finale for Sharp, who should be remembered quite fondly in Chicago hockey history.

There was the blinding speed, goal-scoring ability and contributions to three Stanley Cups.

Even the fights. Yes, Patrick Sharp -- a true sniper -- would also fight for his teammates. Whatever it took to win a game, he is, perhaps, the most unappreciated of an extraordinary group, the seven players present for all three title runs.

Feel free to choose your favorite, but there's a moment that sticks out, a play on which Sharp did not even record a point.

Just short of 50 years of title drought, it was late in the second period of Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia, and the Hawks and Flyers were tied at 2-2.

Sharp outworked Philly defenseman Matt Carle, picked his pocket in the corner and poked a puck free to Kane, who walked up the boards and sent a pass across to Hjalmarsson, who fired on goal. As Andrew Ladd went hard to the net, Sharp dragged another Flyer in between the circles to create separation. Ladd got a piece of the puck and tipped it past Mike Leighton for a 3-2 Hawks lead.

No recognition for Sharp on the play, but no goal for the Hawks without Sharp making the play. The Flyers later tied it so without that play, no overtime and no Kane heroics in OT.

"Nobody on this team cares about being on the score sheet after the game," Sharp said that night on the ice as he and his teammates celebrated the Hawks' first Cup in 49 years. "All we care about is the final score. That's what's so great about this group of players."

On Kane's famous-Cup winner, it was Sharp again forcing the turnover and bad pass to the point, where Brian Campbell slid the puck to Kane.

In all, Sharp scored to tie the game in the second period 4-on-4, created the aforementioned third goal, was on the ice for all 4 Hawks goals and led the team as a plus-3, one of only three Hawks forwards to be above water in Game 6.

It was a typical Patrick Sharp night.

He finished third among all 2010 playoff goal scorers (11), fifth in points (22), third in plus-minus (10) and, of course, led the NHL postseason with 76 shots in 22 games.

In 2013, he led the NHL with 10 playoff goals, was sixth in points (16), had 2 game-winners and led the postseason in shots (91) while playing with injured linemates Hossa and Michal Handzus.

In 2015, and in a reduced role, Sharp still produced 15 points in 23 games, good for fifth on the Stanley Cup champs behind Toews, Kane, Keith and Hossa.

In those three years that ended in rings, Sharp collected 53 points in 68 games, behind only Kane and Toews.

He will finish sixth in Hawks playoff history in goals (42), the only players ahead of him named Bobby Hull, Denis Savard, Stan Mikita, Kane and Steve Larmer. He is eighth among Hawks in playoff points (80) and eighth in games played (117), sixth among active NHL players in postseason goals (47). Sharp will also finish top 10 in Hawks history in regular-season power-play goals, short-handed goals, game-winning goals and shots.

So many crucial plays, so many huge moments.

After a very physical series with Boston in the 2013 Final, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk singled out Sharp while the Hawks celebrated on Boston ice.

"That is a very talented team and they have all-stars all over the place," Boychuk said. "The guy I didn't know that much about was Sharp, in terms of not having played against him much. He's one tough guy. He plays a very tough game. He really impressed me.

"He's all over the ice. He bangs, he gets a lot of pucks on net and he scores goals and he plays in his own end. He's a heck of a player, a heck of a leader."

An emotional Joel Quenneville also praised Sharp that night.

"He kind of flies under the radar around here with all the talent we have up front," Quenneville said. "But he's a warrior. He'll do anything you need and you can put him out there in any situation. He's done a heck of a job for us in every way.

"Heck of a hockey player. Heck of a hockey player."

Sharp, always emotional, was no less so after Cup No. 2.

"I love playing in these games and I love being in this moment. I grew up wanting to be here and wanting to be in this game," said a teary-eyed Sharp. "I take a lot of pride in not feeling pressure. I want the puck and I want to be the guy in the big situation.

"It's so hard to win a series, let alone four series, and then this is the greatest feeling in the world and you don't want it to go away.

"It's indescribable. Really, you just kind of shake your head a lot."

The 2015 grind was the worst for Sharp, but he survived a trying regular season and postseason, and this time the party was at the United Center.

"It's been a tough year. It's been a long year," Sharp said, while holding daughter Madelyn in one arm. "To be on the ice with my two girls, to see all the family and friends and to win it on home ice, it's a pretty special ending."

That night, he also knew he was likely on his way out, so longtime teammates Keith and Seabrook were foremost on his mind.

"Those two guys are my brothers, my best friends," Sharp said. "We've been together for 10 years. We've won three championships together. We've won gold medals together. To do it with your friends, we're lucky to be a part of this.

"The seven of us who have been here for all three Cups, we're like family. We care about each other. We love each other. Our families are very close. To be able to say we've done it three times, we're extremely proud of that."

Often overlooked and usually unappreciated, Patrick Sharp will go down in Hawks history as a huge part of something very special.

You could look at all three titles and easily come to the conclusion that not one would have happened without him.

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