January 30, 2011
His three points in 13:30 helped earn Sharp the NHL All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award, the first Chicago player to win the award since Eric Daze in 2002.
(For those wondering, the MVP is chosen via a fan vote through text messages and the votes of 12 members of the media attending the game. So if you thought Loui Eriksson(notes) was robbed, there you go.)
"He played great and he deserves it," said David Backes(notes) of the St. Louis Blues, who played on a line with Sharp and Claude Giroux(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers for Team Staal. "You're just playing in the first period and you're like, 'Hey, he's doing pretty well tonight. Let's try and keep feeding him.'"
So in a game treated as casually as the All-Star Game is treated by players -- well, until the final three minutes in a 1-goal game, as was witnessed on Sunday -- what motivated Sharp?
His motivation came from an oversight, as Sharp was left off the NHL's online ballot for the All-Star Game when it was released in November with six of his Chicago teammates listed. At the time, Sharp was already on a career-best goal-scoring pace; he currently has 26 goals on the season.
"I guess I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bothered by it," he said after the All-Star Game.
He eventually joined the player pool as an NHL-appointed reserve player, and was selected by Eric Staal's(notes) team in Friday's Fantasy Draft. Team Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), meanwhile, was loaded with Sharp's buddies: Blackhawks Jonathan Toews(notes), Patrick Kane(notes) and Duncan Keith(notes), as well as former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien(notes), now with the Atlanta Thrashers.
"They won the game, I got the trophy, so I guess everybody's happy," said Sharp, whose team lost to Team Lidstrom, 11-10.
So who owns the bragging rights?
"This will be a topic of conversation, definitely. I'll be sure to bring it up a few times [on the flight]," said Sharp. "Jonathan and I also have some unfinished business."
That's a reference to their showdown in the Shot Accuracy skills competition on Saturday night in which Sharp defeated Jonathan Toews, but the match was replayed after Toews said he didn't hear the whistle to start the event. In Round 2, Toews was victorious. Sharp said he anticipated a Round 3 back in Chicago.
But perhaps most of all, Sharp was motivated by family.
Members of his family saw their flight cancelled out of Newark, NJ, due to inclement weather in the Northeast. "They met some people here in Raleigh, they jumped in a minivan and drove from midnight to 8 a.m. just to get here to watch the game," he said.
"I didn't want to let them down."
Of course, the trophy wasn't the only perk to being named MVP: There was also the matter of his new Honda Crosstour EX-L, given to him in a postgame ceremony.
"I'm glad I can bring the trophy home," he said. "My dad and my brother will be fighting over the car."