World Championship Q&A: Patrick Sharp
You've heard from Adam Burish on the American side. Now it's time to hear from the Canadian side. chicagoblackhawks.com caught up with winger Patrick Sharp Wednesday to discuss his experiences so far at the World Championship.
Today's an off-day for you, at least in terms of games. What are you doing with your down time?
I just finished battling with a couple guys on Xbox 360. We were playing NHL 2008. I was playing against Toews, Cam Ward and San Gagner. We just had a little tournament here so it’s pretty fun. Shane Doan’s kids were in the room as well. Make sure if you include this that I was beating Toews pretty good.
You've never had the chance to represent Canada before, have you?
No, this is the first time. Obviously I wanted to make the playoffs with the Blackhawks. But Steve Yzerman approached me at our last game in Detroit, which we lost, so it was two pretty big extremes of emotion. It was a big honor for me and it's still a thrill to put that Canadian jersey on and play for my country.
How would you assess your play so far in the tourney?
I think I’ve been doing OK. I mean, it’s a little different role for me. I’m playing on the checking line the first three games and we’ve created chances; we’ve played with energy and it’s been a lot of fun playing that role. The line’s a little different today. I’ll be playing with Jason Spezza for tomorrow’s game, back on the wing. So we’ll see how that plays out. But it really doesn’t matter what role I’m in or who I’m playing with. It’s just fun to be a part of this team with all these great players and just trying to learn, get better and win a gold medal.
Why did you have to take out your Blackhawks teammate, James Wisniewski, in your win against the U.S. on Tuesday?
I turned around and I saw him on the ice and I knew. I had a bad feeling about it. I didn’t even know he was on the ice. I got hit and my stick swung wildly and I got him in the face there. I talked to him after and I think everything’s OK, thank God.
You saw a lot of familiar faces in that game against the U.S. with Wiz, Patrick Kane and Adam Burish. How intense was that match-up?
It was pretty good. It was our first real challenge, I think; the same for them as well. We had two games that were pretty lopsided for our team and then getting thrown into the mix against a competitive team like the U.S. kind of caught us off guard a little bit. We’ve got a great team, very fast. It was intense. It was a little different being out there and hearing my coaches and my players telling me to get Kane, to get on 83. But it was fun and I enjoyed it. Who knows, we might see them down the road in this tournament again.
What's it like being back with Ken Hitchcock, who was your coach in Philly prior to the trade that brought you here?
Our relationship has always been good. I think people made a big deal out of that when I got traded out of Philly, that we didn’t get along, but we have always been fine. Him coaching in Columbus and me in Chicago, we see each other quite a bit, so we’ve had time over the last couple years to chat here and there and just talk about how things are going. I know that he was a big part of me getting to where I am today in my career and I’m certainly happy to be back playing for him, trying to win this gold medal.
What's been the best part of the entire experience so far?
I think just getting along with the guys. It’s tough walking into a new dressing room where you don’t know too many people and I was fortunate enough to have a couple Blackhawks with me and of course Eric Staal’s from the same hometown as me (Thunder Bay, Ontario). I knew a few people right away, but just to hang out with these great players and to learn from them and hang out with them off the ice has been the best part so far. Obviously playing and trying to get better every game is great too. We’re playing the best hockey teams in the tournament. But up to this point it’s just been fun being in the dressing room, being off the ice with Team Canada and especially being in Canada as well. It’s nice to walk down and hear the support from everybody else.
Who is somebody off the ice that you've especially enjoyed getting to know better?
Dany Heatley I think has been pretty neat. I’ve always known who he was and he’s a Wisconsin guy, so Adam Burish told me a lot about him and what he’s like. It was nice to meet him and hang out with him a little bit. Obviously he’s having a great tournament. I think he’d be probably the guy that I’ve had the most fun with.
What about on the ice -- somebody who maybe you had never paid a lot of attention to and has impressed you with his play?
Brent Burns from Minnesota, defenseman. I’ve always known he was big, strong and competed hard, but he’s really impressed me a lot. I think he’s a great player; he’s young, and he’s going to be a great player for a long time. And also Mike Green from Washington. I've watched him play and I know he scored a lot of goals this year and made some great plays, but to see him skate with the puck and run a power play and just zip that puck around is pretty impressive. So those two have really impressed me the most on Team Canada.
What are some of the most interesting comments or questions you've heard about your Blackhawks teammates -- whether it's opponents like Kane and Wiz, or Canadian teammates like Toews and Duncan Keith?
There’s been a lot of questions about the Hawks actually, which is probably a good sign I think. We were able to bring Jonathan Toews' nickname to Team Canada, so we’ve got guys calling him "Mr. Serious" now, which gives everybody a good chuckle in the room -- especially the Chicago guys.
I have to confess I missed that moniker, though it certainly applies. When did it start?
I think it started toward the end of the year. It’s not really an insult or to make fun of him; he’s just always so focused and takes everything so seriously. So we nicknamed him ‘Mr. Serious’ and it kind of stuck with him on Team Canada as well. Guys talk about Duncs’ speed and a lot of guys want to talk about Kaner.
The one that surprises me is a lot of guys have asked questions about Dustin Byfuglien. I'm always answering questions about what he’s like; what kind of player he is; what he’s like off the ice. Not just one or two. Honestly, a bunch of guys. And Duncs, he’s my roommate on this trip, said the same thing. Everyone’s asking about Byfuglien and Kaner and those guys, so it’s been good. It’s been fun answering questions about the Hawks.