(MCT) – Patrick Sharp has been a man on the move during a whirlwind offseason.
The Blackhawks forward recently returned from the World Championship in Finland and is settling into a new home in Chicago. On Thursday, Sharp took time to visit schoolchildren as a reward for their volunteering efforts for Goodwill Stores.
While Sharp has been busy, as one of the Hawks’ leaders he has kept an eye on the team’s activity since its first-round postseason exit at the hands of the Coyotes. That includes teammate Patrick Kane’s all-too-public adventures during a wild weekend in Madison, Wis., the firing of assistant coach Mike Haviland and contract extensions for defenseman Johnny Oduya and forward Jamal Mayers.
Before visiting classrooms to mingle with students and sign autographs at St. Louise de Marillac School in LaGrange Park, Sharp discussed those issues as well as his health and reflected on the retirement of longtime opponent Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired Thursday after 20 seasons.
On Kane, who was photographed while apparently intoxicated during a block party last month in Madison:
“(Kane) lives a pretty famous lifestyle. Everyone can recognize him wherever he goes, and he’s in the public eye quite a bit. He’s my friend, he’s my teammate, I love the guy and I’m going to be behind him no matter what happens. He’s the same great kid that he’s always been.
“We talk all the time about what it is to be a professional and how to carry yourself, and a guy like Kaner, he knows that. It’s just he finds himself getting his picture taken because of who he is. There’s nothing that I’m going to say to him that is going to help him. He’s a kid with a good head on his shoulders, and I’m not worried about him at all. It’s a different way to live your life. But for the amount of success that he’s had at such a young age, he’s handled it pretty good.
“I don’t think that people’s off-ice things can distract (from) what happens inside a locker room. You’ve got to remember that your teammates are your family, and that’s the biggest thing.”
On coach Joel Quenneville’s firing of Haviland:
“Mike was a great coach to me. He’s a great friend, and I enjoyed playing for him. He’s got a bright future in the game. I know he’s well-respected across the league, (and) it’s just a matter of time before he lands another job.
“If there was (dysfunction between coaches), the players didn’t sense it. They did a good job of hiding. Those are all professional coaches in that room that do a good job of relaying messages to players preparing us to play, and I didn’t know any of that.”
On his health, after playing the last three months of the season with a broken bone in his left wrist:
“The wrist is good. It held up the last 30 or 40 games there, and I just moved out of my house carrying a bunch of heavy boxes, so I’m ready to start lifting weights.”
On the Tuesday signings of Oduya and Mayers:
“Those are two players who helped our team quite a bit. There’s no secret that when Oduya joined our team, he fit right in and it was perfect. Jamal is a professional that’s been doing a great job for so many years. Stan (Bowman) has the tough job of tweaking the lineup and building a team, and that’s what the offseason is for. I’m sure there will be more to come.”
On Lidstrom, who retired from the rival Red Wings:
“He’s arguably the best defenseman that ever played the game. I have good memories of all the years playing against him (in the) Detroit-Chicago rivalry.
“He never hit you, he’s never played physical, but you can never get to the net, you can never get around him. He had such a great stick. He was always in position. He was a great player with the puck — he put passes right on guys’ sticks. He ran that power play for years in Detroit, and he’s one of those guys that every team would be drafting first overall if they were picking an all-time team.”