There's an unusual name on the list of people renting space at Johnny's IceHouse in the West Loop: Patrick Sharp.
With the NHL hunkered down in lockout mode—the regular season was supposed to open this weekend—the Blackhawks forward has to pay to keep in hockey shape at his team's official practice facility.
But that's not all he's doing these days. RedEye recently caught up with Sharp while he was working out at Gillette Odor Shield's "My City Is My Gym" at Navy Pier to find out what his life is like without the NHL.
You're unemployed right now. Bored yet?
I'm still playing hockey on my own and preparing to play. I also have a new family and a 9-month-old daughter, so a lot of my workouts are chasing her around the house now. Other than that, just being back in the city, enjoying it, and staying involved with what's going on in our league.
Does that mean you're Mr. Mom at home now?
I'm going to say yes, but I think my wife will disagree with that. She still does all the dirty work. She tries to get me to do it and I do the best I can, but moms are just better at it than dads are. That's the way I look at it. But I'm spending more time with my wife and daughter, but that's a good thing because once the season starts, it doesn't stop for 10 months or so and you have to be selfish in that you have to prepare yourself to play the next game or the next practice. The people that suffer are your wife and family and the people you like to hang out with, so it's nice to spend time with them right now.
Since you have the time, will you be following your United Center counterparts more?
I'm already up on the Bears. I watch them every Sunday. I also love baseball, but now that the Cubs and White Sox are done, I don't have that to follow but ... Chicago is a great sports town. Hopefully they will let me into the United Center to watch the Bulls, I don't know. [Laughs.]
A few of your teammates have signed on to play overseas. Are you any closer to a decision about going to Europe to play hockey?
Yeah, absolutely, there's been some talk with my agent and some teams over there. But I think it's still early in the process. I consider myself a Blackhawk and I always will—that's the team I want to play for. But at the same time, I'm a hockey player and I need to find ice to stay competitive. It's still a decision for down the road, but I'm considering all my options.
Is there a particular country or team you'd want to play for?
There is a team, but I don't want to say to get anyone in trouble—mostly me. It is in Europe, yes.
How optimistic are you that a deal to end the lockout is going to get done anytime soon?
I'm optimistic. I think something should get done, you know? The league is in great shape, we have all sorts of momentum in our sport. The Los Angeles Kings just won the Stanley Cup and it's a perfect opportunity to seek growth. The fact that we're in this position right now, arguing back and forth and canceling games, is frustrating for us as players and for the fans. It's not fair for them either.
The Hawks were considered Stanley Cup contenders coming into the season. Is it difficult to be in lockout mode considering the team you have?
Yeah, we're confident with the team that we have on paper. We'd like to see it on the ice and playing together. Our team and organization didn't make a whole lot of changes from last year to this year, and that's a positive thing. Anytime you can keep a group together—especially a young and exciting group we have—we're going to grow and get better and develop. We're excited about the process of getting back in there and fighting for a Stanley Cup whenever the season starts.
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.
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