Patrick Sharp made the trip up to St. Paul, MN on Tuesday, and with teammate Dave Bolland staying in Chicago, there’s a real chance that Chicago Blackhawks fans might see ol “Sharpie” back on the second line at LW with Marcus Kruger and Patrick Kane.
Sharp’s been a fan favorite for the last eight years here in Chicago, and while his absence from the lineup hasn’t noticeably slowed the Hawks down—they’re currently #1 in goals scored with 128—the idea of him skating alongside of Kane with the season he’s having is enough to make hardcore fans blush.
Okay, okay. I know hardcore hockey fans don’t blush. At least I don’t think they do? Hell they might blush all the time, but how should I know with all that hair on their faces???
Anyways, Hawks fans have a soft spot for #10 because over the course of his career he’s stuck it out even when the idea of a Championship parade through the Loop sounded like lunacy.
Sharp was traded by the Philadelphia Flyers to Chicago midway through the 2005-06 season and managed to grind out 31 points on a team that came in second to last in the Western Conference. And let’s be clear here: being traded to the Hawks back then was pretty much a death sentence. Longtime owner Bill Wirtz had spent most of the early 2000s completely alienating the team’s fan base by instituting such polices as not televising home games (he claimed it wasn’t fair to the team’s season ticket holders) and jacking up prices to near $50 (at the time this was about the highest in the league).
This storied franchise that had made the playoffs 29 straight years until 1998 was now a perennial cellar dweller with Sharp among the team’s leaders in minutes and points. That year, however, the team drafted a pup from the University of North Dakota named Jonathan Toews and over the next two seasons the combination of Toews, Sharp, and a wild man from Buffalo, NY named Patrick Kane gradually dragged the team out of the gutter. After a 2007-08 season in which Sharp put up 36 goals and 26 assists, the young trio finally brought Chicago back to the postseason in 2008-09 where they made a run to the conference finals before falling four games to one to their arch rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. The following year these three were not to be denied, and by winning the Stanley Cup against the Flyers, they officially put the team back into the hearts of all Chicagoans.
Sharp’s story is a special one for those aforementioned hardcore fans who were still “Committed to the Indian” back when they couldn’t watch a home game in their own home. They miss the guy who helped put the franchise back on top over the last five years, and even though he seemed a bit off in the first 24 games of the season (five goals, 13 assists), the United Center fans are foaming at the mouth to see him out there on the ice and contributing to what is shaping up to be a magical season.
So here’s hoping Sharpie’s back in the lineup versus the Minnesota Wild tonight and getting reacquainted with his old buddy “Kaner.” If he can find his groove over the course of these last ten games, it won’t matter who the Pittsburgh Penguins or Boston Bruins go out and trade for because the Cup is coming back home to Chicago.