by Scott King
Since the NHL Draft in Chicago, there’s been whispers of how good of shape Patrick Sharp was in after putting in work to fully recover from a hip surgery that he had in late March. Sharp signed a one-year contract to return to Chicago on July 1 after playing the previous two seasons with the Dallas Stars.
The rumors were confirmed Friday morning at the United Center after Sharp zipped down the ice to score on a breakaway early on in his first scrimmage at the first day of training camp.
“Yeah, I mean he’s the type of guy who loves to come in as prepared as he can for training camp,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “I think we all know his skill level and what he’s able to do on the ice. At his age, 35, he’s giving me a hard time with all the testing he’s beating me on yesterday. He doesn’t seem to be aging at all. He’s tough to keep up with in that sense. We know he’s ready to go.”
“Felt okay on the ice today,” Sharp said. “Won the game, and [I’ll] try to get better every day.”
The winger admitted he was pretty happy with his results from Thursday’s fitness test.
“I was up there. I got a couple years on these guys so I try to use that as an excuse, and a surgery to fall back on, but I was really pleased with my results and how I feel on the ice, so ready to go.
“It’s a scary summer when you go through any kind of surgery,” Sharp said of the procedure. “Every surgery has an impact on your body, whether you’re going to respond to it… The four to six month recovery that was ahead of me, I knew I wanted to take advantage of that and I knew I felt good, but my fitness testing, I hit all my numbers I hit in the past as a Hawk. It just kind of confirms how I feel on the ice.
“I think I always work hard. I think fitness is something I put on as a priority. I know the kind of camps that Joel [Quenneville] runs here in September. You have to be ready to go physically and mentally otherwise you get left behind. Getting off to a good start as a player, as a team is so important these days.
“I kind of learned over the years from watching guys. Duncs’ [Duncan Keith] does his own thing now, but in the early days he was always in top shape when we were twenty, twenty-five years old and you can see it translate onto the ice.”
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville noticed Sharp’s fitness level, but also some speed to accompany it.
“He really did come into camp in great shape. When we look at the numbers and the guys’ conditioning levels, Sharpie’ was right up there, one of the highest veteran guys that are here. He focuses on how he prepares himself.
“I thought his quickness, he looks quick, he looks sharp, he looks ready and he looks like he’s hungry and happy to be here. We’re looking for a great contribution from him. He had some … His jump and his quickness right off the first step caught your eye.”
Hawks winger Patrick Kane spent time skating with Sharp prior to training camp. The two could log a fair amount of ice time on the same line together this season due to familiarity from the past.
“He looks really good,” Kane said. “He’s kind of like a freak of nature as far as working out and being in as good of shape as he is at that age. He’s going to be focused coming in [on] having a good camp. He looks like he’s dialed-in. He’s looked really good at the skates we’ve been having too.”
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