Sharp's Olympic dream comes true

CHICAGO -- Over four-plus months, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp continually told everyone who asked that he wasn't thinking about his Olympic chances.

That changed in the past week. It became almost the only thing he thought about.

"It was pretty stressful," Sharp said after practice Tuesday. "I wasn't lying when I said all season I wasn't thinking about it. I was just focused on playing good hockey. Since the New Jersey game [on Friday] really it was kind of on my mind. The past couple of days it's been tough to go to sleep. You're reading a lot of reports and trying to get as much information as you can."

Sharp kept his phone nearby wherever he went in his home Tuesday morning. The only time he stepped away from it was when he went to take a shower. Coincidentally, that's when the phone call arrived to inform him he had been selected to Team Canada.

"I just got out of the shower and had a voice mail," Sharp said. "I had my phone with me the whole time. I was surprised I didn't have it in the shower with me. I got a call from Doug Armstrong, the GM of St. Louis, and I called him back as soon as I could and he didn't answer.

"I listened to the voice mail a couple of more times and confirmed that I was going. He called me right back and we had a good talk. It was a special moment."

While Sharp constantly said he wasn't thinking about being picked, he never denied that being selected was important to him. He had never been chosen to play for Canada in the Olympics before, and this was likely his best opportunity after having just turned 32.

Sharp allowed himself to fully enjoy the moment on Tuesday.

"Very excited," Sharp said. "It's a special day for my family and for myself. I'm proud to represent my country, my parents, my family and of course the Blackhawks. I'm thrilled to have gotten the call this morning. I'm looking forward to it.

"Growing up, winning the Stanley Cup and playing in the NHL were always my dreams. When I was in school in Vermont, I remember gathering around with all the Canadians in one apartment and all the Americans in another and watching the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake and screaming at the top of our lungs with every shot on goal and every play in the game. So I think it started there. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be able to play at that kind of level. A lot of hard work and dedication, I guess."

Sharp had used this season to strengthen his case for a spot on the team. He's second in the NHL with 25 goals and tied for seventh with 46 points. In the past two weeks, he's recorded two hat tricks.

"Everyone has something to prove and something to show," Sharp said. "You look at the roster of players, guys on it and off the team, there's a deep talent pool in Canada. I wanted to play as well as I could, not only this year but in playoff games and the past couple of seasons to try to build up that body of work."

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman could tell Sharp was motivated.

"The way Sharp's played the last couple months, really all season, you could tell he was hungry to get on the team," Bowman said.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is happy for Sharp because he knows what making the team means to him.

"It's great," Toews said. "He's the guy you could really tell he's having a great season so far. He wants it. He wants to be able to prove himself and prove to other people what type of player and what caliber of player he is.

"I think his record speaks for itself. When you look at how he's contributed to our team in the playoffs and our Stanley Cup runs, I think he's not going to shy away from the spotlight, not going to shy away from the big stage. That's probably what they see in him as well."