Last night was a banner game for Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp. The 32-year-old had a hat trick against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. What makes it even more special was that this was the second hat trick in five games for Sharp. Making it even more special was that it’s just days before Hockey Canada announces the roster for the 2014 Canadian Olympic team. For fans, it would be a validation of Sharp’s talent, and would be a long time coming.
Sharp has been on a roll this year, much like his fellow winger and American counterpart Patrick Kane. Sharp has a total of 25 goals with 13 in his last 14 games. He’s currently second in the entire NHL in goals. If he isn’t a candidate for a national team position, then the priorities of Hockey Canada must be pretty skewed. The fact that he had to wait to represent Canada on the international circuit until 2008 is rather confusing.
But Sharp’s play is a loud and clear message to the guys at Hockey Canada: pick me, please. Just imagine the blow back if Sharp is left off the roster coming from Thunder Bay and the southwest shore of Lake Michigan. Sharp has been a vital part of the Blackhawks for the past several years. It could be said that his acquisition from the Philadelphia Flyers helped kick-start the Blackhawks’ renaissance. To say he’s important might be understating it.
And Sharp’s growth as a player is making the noise even louder. Perhaps the Flyers did not know what Sharp would become when they agreed to send him to Chicago. But he’s shown over the past several years that’s not the case. If Kane and fellow Canadian Jonathan Toews are ever struggling, Sharp is there to pick up the slack.
If Sharp is not picked for Team Canada, it would be an insult. For all we know, Hockey Canada could go with the safe route and that would mean Sharp is not on the team. But this is the bad safe route. The good safe route has Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock putting Sharp on the Olympic team. It would be the best possible move.