I Understand It, But I Don’t Want It

It’s been two full days since Patrick Sharp was traded to Dallas. The wait between the actual trade and this necessary reflective piece was not only as a result of the news coming in the middle of the evening on Friday, but also as a result of needing a couple days to let the reality sink in and to try to process what exactly even my own personal feelings are on this subject. And truthfully I don’t even know if I’ve fully sorted through them yet.

In the interest of full disclosure, it’s necessary for me to state that Patrick Sharp has been my favorite player for a very long time. I only own one jersey, and it’s a 10 in red with an “A” that I’ve had since Christmas of 2007. I knew I was wearing it for the last time walking into the building for Game 3 against Tampa, but that didn’t mean I had fully come to terms with what reality has ended up being. When overtime picks start flying either on the concourse or via text message between Sam, Killion, and the Feather, I have literally only ever picked Patrick Sharp. In my second column ever for the Indian, I basically wrote an open love letter.

McClure Sharp Column

And that’s probably the main aspect of what makes this difficult. It’s not that Sharp has won multiple Stanley Cups with the organization and is getting jettisoned. That’s sadly commonplace for the Hawks at this point. And it’s not even that he’s been around for all three. It’s that he was here the longest along with Keith and Seabrook, and here when things were not only bad, but desolate.

I won’t pretend to have been able to predict this level of success for either the team or Sharp personally, but when he was traded to the Hawks in December of 2005, it did at least feel like they were getting a legitimately competent player who could contribute meaningfully. During the Great Lockout of Aught Four I went to a number of Wolves games out of desperation, and was present for Game 2 of the Calder Cup Final against the Philadelphia Phantoms which saw the Phantoms win 2-1 in double overtime, with both goals scored by Sharp. It obviously left an impression. That trade finally felt different, and for the longest time was the gold standard in the league for world-class fleecing.

It’s perhaps a reflection of my own sense of aging to talk about a trade from now 10 years ago and then to rationalize it happening by saying “Well, he is getting older he’s expensive and it’s time to inject some new talent into the lineup”, when in reality the man is barely four months older than I am. And it’s staggering to think just how far this team and this franchise has come since that seemingly modest win of a trade. It’s almost overwhelming.

To put Sharp’s tenure into perspective, only three players in the history of his Original Six franchise have played more games than Sharp for the Hawks and been traded away: Denis Savard, Steve Larmer, and Bobby Hull (who wasn’t really traded, but basically wasn’t welcome to come back). This includes all of the late 90s departures, and all their commensurate heartbreak. Roenick. Belfour. Chelios. Amonte. None of them played as many games for the Hawks, regular season and playoffs, as Patrick Sharp. And none of them save Hull have a single ring to show for their time here. Sharp has three, and was a lettered captain for all of them. And his teammates knew it, allowing him to carry the cup during the parade, knowing full well what was ahead in the summer.

Once time passes and the dust settles and people move on, Sharp is likely to find himself in a similar situation as Steve Larmer. Overshadowed by larger names and bigger talents on his own roster, and his number is likely never to be retired even if it will probably be a while before anyone wears 10 in red again. Except Larmer had to be traded away to win his Cup with the Rangers, whereas Sharp’s name is etched in silver three times over with this franchise.

And this past year, with all of its rumor and innuendo coinciding with a snakebitten performance from Sharp should take nothing away from his accomplishments here even aside from the Cup wins, even if absolutely every letter of it is true (some of it probably is). All the shorthanded goals of 2007. The breakout 36 goal season with Kane in ’08. The overtime winner against Detroit. Railroading Zdeno Chara. The shorthanded goal that basically saved the Hawks’ Cup run in Game 2 against Vancouver. The 4 on 4 goal late in the second against Philadelphia in Game 6 to tie it, complete with the “Jesus Christ Pose” celebration, which this blog still maintains should have sealed a Conn Smythe. Celebrating so hard in Game 4 in Boston he knocked himself over. The birthday hatrick and backcheck. Escorting the Cup in the third parade. That there are so many to choose from is a result not only of being here a decade, but also being a really goddamn good hockey player.

The Stars do not visit the United Center in the regular season until February 11th, and there will no doubt be a moment for Sharp designated by the UC production staff. And there should be no doubt regarding the volume of the ovation he should receive. It’s more than deserved.

  • mightymikeD

    Great MM. Best tribute thus far. And I’m going to think of #10 everytime I hear that song now.

    • mightymikeD

      and, of course, the next song on the record is “The Fucked Jam” .. insert NARRATIVE here..

    • zuppadipesce

      The Triumvirate always nails with the music references, but I always appreciate a Ween reference: It makes me giddy in the loins…much like Patrick Sharp did in the Indianhead. Slàinte Sharpie!

  • AirTrafficAJ

    Forever and ever, Amen.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    I was hoping that Saad’s chaos would result in us keeping Sharp. Alas….

  • jordyhawk

    Totally agree that if you had to pick one his shorty against Canucks was the biggest goal of the 2010 run. Huge.

  • Jane Doe

    Buck up, McClure, and take heed: At least he has a decent Pantera goal song now. I really want to punch people in the neck after a goal at the UC.

  • wardrums

    Wow. McClure, this is one of yhe best pieces yoi have ever written. I missed your piece in the Indian when you originally posted it. Thanks for reposting!. I’ve been collecting my thoughts on the situation also, but would be hard preased to add anything to your poignant, heart felt thoughts.

    I will be tjere on Feb 11. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if Sharpie has about 25 goals by then.

    Stick tap to yoi McClure, you definitely struck a chord.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Was trying to think of a compliment for the piece. Your “stick tap” better than any I could.

  • Jim
  • SuperHawk27

    I was at that Back-Check/Hatrick game. Memories!

    • HossasPierogi

      Me, too! The best thing about it was he did it to Duchene, who’s got wheels

  • HossasPierogi

    In 2008, right before the Hawks fired Savard and hired Q, I had the opportunity to ask Sharpie for an autograph. I have this Blackhawks 75th anniversary coffee table book and was considering which page he should sign. I found a page with a photo of the Stanley Cup. I said to Sharpie, “Sign here,” and added, “no pressure!” Without hesitation, he signed “Patrick Sharp, #10,” right next to the photo of the Cup. That moment may have been the first time I actually thought winning a cup here in Chicago might be possible. Happy trails, Sharpie!

  • Oldfarthawkfan

    Now I understand why you became so upset with me early in the season when I was pounding the table that Seabs had to stay and Sharp was expendable. Sorry about your (our) loss. Hard cap’s suck. Great blog post. I see where you were coming from in a new light. Next year unfortunately we will be arguing Seabs. v. Crow

  • CurvedBlade

    Sharp has also been my favorite over the years. But I understand a sports team is a living organism. The old must be replaced by the young. If it stands still it dies.

    Sharp understands that. I’m sure he also feels hockey and the hawks have been very good to him. He has 3 championship rings and a lot of life long friends from his days in Chicago.

  • B.I.G. Forever

    Even though he’s been the one everybody talked about, it was still shocking and sad to see him go. Of all the Exodus since this run began in the 09′ playoffs, he hurts the most. More than Buff, Ladd, Leddy or Saad.

    Great Run Sharpie! Thanks for the memories and 3 Cups!

  • Sopel the catfish

    With Sharp moving to Dallas the Blue Jackets now have the highest salary spent on forwards (Pitt still needs to sign a few though)

  • 60MinutesBaby60

    First Saadr and now … Sharpie.
    Talk about EXTREME highs & lows. Walking on air post Cup victory.
    Kicked in the nuts – twice over – after. (Yeah we *knew* re #10 but just
    the same …)

    As always … GoHawks. (Heads for fridge, needs a beer. (Weird part doesn’t even drink anymore ;-)))

  • Research Analysis

    Sharp may rejoin the Hawks in the spring of 2017 as a rental and add a fourth ring to his collection!

  • PooSmasher

    Excellent article.

    My opinion of Sharp was raised most by his performance in the 2011 playoffs, despite it being only 7 games and despite almost 4 of those games being complete and utter embarrassments from the Chicago perspective.

    As the Canucks absolutely and shamelessly fed the Hawks for three straight games, Sharp stood out, head and shoulders above all other Chicago forwards. He was a driving force in what was almost a miracle comeback in a series the Hawks had no business competing in.

    Sharp finished those 7 games with 3g and 2a. He also finished inches away from a powerplay one-timer goal that would have begun Vancouver’s descent into irrelevancy 7 weeks sooner than it eventually took.

    I agree that 2010’s performance was Conn Smythe worthy, yet I’ll always think of 2011 when I remember Sharp.

  • ‘hawks58

    Sharpie has never been my favorite, but it is more because we have an embarrassment of riches to choose a favorite player and I have always liked him.

    It is a shame he had to go and the Sharpshooter will be sorely missed in Chicago. Here’s to a huge ovation in February when we Honor a Blackhawk great. Hopefully he will be back in a hawk sweater at some point, either as a player or in a heritage night.

    Good luck in Dallas #10

  • Very well written piece, MM. Hard to see him go, even though we knew it was coming.

  • Blaine Jacobs

    Fantastic piece, and bummed to see him depart, too. I take solace in the fact we have something permanent, three times over, to show for all the players the team has had to jettison in the past six years.

  • PuttingOnTheFoil77

    The latest best run for Sharpie was last season, and that birthday hat trick/backcheck game against Colorado, he was monster. I’m from the US but I was rooting for Team Canada the whole time because 10 made the team. Sharpshooter will be missed. If there is to be a Mount Rushmore of Blackhawks hockey, he’ll be right up there. LGH

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Wow … Your Mt Rushmore of Hawks is a damn interesting thought.
      Would seem #s 9,21 & 35 locks – for me anyway. But whose kisser to get carved into the #4 slot? Man THAT would be tough to chose.

  • PuttingOnTheFoil77

    And a wonderful piece, McClure. This is by far the best site there is for Hawks hockey.

  • John Czahor

    I had been doing pretty well with Sharp’s departure until reading this, now I’m really sad.