Patrick Sharp stood in the hallway, catching up with some former teammates after the Blackhawks-Dallas Stars game.
It was a strange feeling to be at the United Center as a visitor, for sure.
“It was a little difficult to be honest with you,” Sharp said after the Blackhawks beat the Stars 4-0 in the preseason finale for both. “I’m kind of happy to do it in the preseason to get a feel for what it’s going to be like a few times. Lot of emotions out there; I know it’s just a preseason game, but it’s kind of neat to be back in the United Center. Some very special things happened here for me.”
Sharp was a cap casualty this past summer, but his transition to the Stars has been a good one thus far. Still, he spent 10 years with the Blackhawks, winning three Stanley Cups with them. It’s been just a little over three months since he hoisted that third Cup. So it was no surprise that the memories came flooding back.
“Probably just landing in Chicago and driving in. I haven’t been here since the week after we won,” Sharp said when asked the hardest moment on Saturday. “I mentioned it kind of feels like home, so it was a little difficult. Feeling yourself out to start the game was a little weird. But as the game went on it was just another hockey game. I play for the Stars now.”
Seeing Sharp in white and green on Saturday night was likely an adjustment for the United Center crowd. His ex-teammates had to take a few minutes to get used to it, too.
“Yeah, it was a little weird,” Marian Hossa said. “I met Sharpie and Johnny (Oduya) in the hallway [before the game], wearing a different sweater already. You hate seeing great guys leaving but on the other hand, it’s part of the business. It’s tough to see.”
As much as the Blackhawks had a warm welcome for him before and after the game, they played Sharp like any other opponent during it. Sharp still got off a good number of shots, as always – he led the Stars with five. He was near Jonathan Toews not long after the Blackhawks captain took a slash from Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.
So, any words exchanged there?
“No, that was not going to happen,” Sharp said.
Sharp dealt with the myriad of emotions on Saturday. Chicago will always be special for him. But the present is pretty nice, too.
“They’ve done a great job of welcoming my family and myself. We’re all moved in, ready to start the season,” Sharp said of the Stars. “I’m feeling good about hockey, feeling good about life away from the rink, and ready to go.”
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— Corey Crawford was supposed to play the entire game on Saturday but Scott Darling replaced him near the halfway point of the second period. Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford “felt he was a little tight,” and he was pulled for precautionary reasons. Quenneville added it was nothing serious – “we don’t expect him to miss a day.”
— Artemi Panarin had a nice preseason debut, recording two primary assists in the Blackhawks’ victory. Quenneville also liked the combination of Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane – “there’s something there,” he said.
— Michal Rozsival be placed on long-term injured reserve “could happen,” Quenneville said. The defenseman, who’s coming off that fractured left ankle he suffered in May, hasn’t practiced with the team yet. A player on LTIR would be unavailable for 24 days and 10 games.