This season James Duthie goes 1-on-1 with the biggest stars and newsmakers in the game. In this edition, Duthie talks to Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp.
James Duthie: (Heading into Friday's game against the Canucks) You have scored one goal in five straight games. You know we love silly projections on the NHL on TSN. Do you believe you can keep this going until…say…retirement?
Patrick Sharp: (Laughs) I'm chipping away. I wouldn't mind a few multi-goal games in there.
JD: It is a little strange. You score in a lot of games, but usually it seems to be just one goal.
PS: I know. I have no explanation. Other guys score in bunches, two and three-goal games. I've had a few two-goal games and one hat-trick. But mostly one at a time. Hey, I'll take them anyway I can get them.
JD: Do you know where Matt Ellison is today? (Sharp was traded from Philadelphia to Chicago for Matt Ellison.)
PS: (Laughs) No idea.
JD: Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo of the KHL. That has to be one of the most lopsided deals of our generation. Did you just figure it out in Chicago? Or did Chicago figure it out faster than Phili that you were a player?
PS: I think a little of both. I give Clarkie (then Flyers GM Bob Clarke) a lot of credit because Philadelphia was a first place team with so many stars up the middle, I just had trouble getting in the lineup, and playing the kind of minutes I needed to develop. Clarkie allowed me to go to Chicago and play those minutes. I didn't score my first 25 games as a Blackhawk yet I kept playing powerplay and significant minutes. I'm very grateful to Dale Tallon and Trent Yawney, the coach then, for giving me that chance.
JD: I heard Toews said, "No more talking about last year." So will you get in trouble if I make you talk about last year?
PS: No. Nobody listens to Toews, anyway.
JD: (Laughs) You knew there was going to be trades after the winning the cup, did you think you would be dealt?
PS: Every time someone mentioned the Hawks during that season, they talked about how I'd be getting traded in the off-season or at the deadline, so it was definitely in my mind. But Stan Bowman and the people who make those decisions kept telling me there was no chance of that. And I trusted them. So I was playing pretty comfortably and with confidence I was going to stay a Blackhawk.
JD: Which of the guys traded do the Blackhawks miss the most?
PS: That's a tough question. The two guys that would come to mind would be down in Atlanta. What Buff is doing back on defense is pretty impressive. And Andrew Ladd was an underrated player in Chicago and is now the captain of an NHL team and is putting up offensive numbers. But for selfish reasons, I'll also say Adam Burish, because he was my roommate on the road, one of my closest friends, and he was always a treat in the locker room. He made me laugh. It's hard to single out one guy.
JD: You got married last summer. Was the best part of your Stanley Cup run getting out of decisions like what colour napkins would be used at the wedding?
PS: (Laughs) You couldn't have said it better. The best part of going deep in the playoffs was that whenever the wedding talk started, I said I had to go grab a meal or take a nap to get ready for the game.
JD: Did any teammates embarrass you at your wedding?
PS: Burish was the MC, he cracked everyone up. Pat Kane didn't embarrass me, but he might have embarrassed himself. He did karaoke.
JD: There's a shocker. Does he have a go-to tune?
PS: His rookie year, every time he scored at the United Center, they played Rock Me Like a Hurricane. So we had a band hired for the wedding and they played that. He ran up and grabbed the microphone and sang it. I have to give him credit, he actually did a pretty good job.
JD: You are a known prankster. Kane and Toews are your favourite targets. Give me your best one.
PS: We were in Columbus and I took Toews' phone, and switched Brent Seabrook's contact information with a girl Jonathan had been seeing, so her name would come up from Seabrook's number. When Jonny came back from the bathroom, I texted him from Seabrook's phone, saying, "We have to talk. I'm pregnant." This is during dinner so he read the text and his face just dropped! He turned white as a ghost, and he just slid away from the table.
JD: (Laughs) That is hilariously evil. How long did you let him suffer?
PS: Everyone at the table was in on it, and we saw his reaction, so we thought we'd better stop him before he left and tried to call her. So we told him pretty fast. He had a good laugh.
JD: Now that he has a gold medal and a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe, is he becoming Captain Less-Serious?
PS: He's starting to lighten up. His first year in league is when he got that nickname from Seabrook, but he's a lot more fun in the locker room and on road trips now. But he buckles down when it's time to play.
JD: Who, right now, is the #1 challenger to take the cup away from Chicago?
PS: Detroit. I know people are saying they are getting up there in age, but they still skate as well as they always have and they are always really tough to play against.
JD: Are the Wings also still your biggest rival? Or is there someone you dislike more?
PS: The easy answer here in Chicago is Detroit. But for me, it's the Canucks. We have some very physical games against them. Both sides don't like each other, but there's a lot of respect on both sides. We may have gotten the better of them in the playoffs, but it is never an easy game when we play them.
JD: Toughest goalie in the NHL for you to score on?
PS: Lundqvist in the east, and Jonas Hiller from Anaheim in the west.
JD: Why Hiller?
PS: He never gives up on a play. He catches with the other hand, and that makes it tough for me as a shooter. I have scored on him, but every time I see him in there, I always get a little nervous.
JD: Is there a player in the league you can't stand?
PS: Not really. But now that Adam Burish is on another team...we play him next week and I know he'll be yapping in my ear the whole time, so I'll say Adam Burish. (Laughs)
JD: Is there a rule change would you like to see?
PS: I know you can't kick pucks in for protection of goalies and defenceman, but I'd like to see more ways to score goals. Why can't a guy propel it in off his skate? Why can't a guy bat it in with his glove? Why can't a guy guide in it with his body?
JD: You are preaching to the converted on the "propelled" in goals. I think they should all count. Those are athletic plays. If you are worried about guys kicking wildly in the crease, just put in a penalty in to make sure there's no reckless use of the skate. Do you agree?
PS: I agree 100%. Most of the time you see these reviews, the guy isn't kicking or flailing. He is redirecting it with his foot. To me, those are goals. If a guy is swinging his leg wildly in there or diving into the crease feet first, give him a penalty. Give him a major if you want. But to me, even if a guy is on a breakaway and kicks it in, that's a creative move. Why not allow it?
James Duthie's new book of columns, "The Day I Almost Killed Two Gretzkys (And other off-the-wall stories about sports...and life)", is now available. You can order your autographed copy here in the TSN Shop.