We all knew it was coming. That didn’t make it any less gut-wrenching when we finally reached the moment when Patrick Sharp was no longer a Chicago Blackhawk. We will have a blog post later analyzing the logistics and hockey side of the Sharp/Johns trade to Dallas. But for now, I want to write a tribute to the hockey player, Patrick Sharp.

We have gotten used to trading away players from championship teams in the past five years, but I don’t think any of them have been as meaningful as this one. Patrick Sharp was the last remaining remnant of the Blackhawks’ “dark ages.” His trade from Philly in 2005 was one of the first competent trades that the Hawks had made in a decade. It was the first step in the right direction for this franchise in a LONG time.

What Patrick Sharp has meant to the Blackhawks since that day in December of 2005 can barely be digested in one small blog post. His tenure has brought three Stanley Cup championships to Chicago. Go back in time and tell people that ten years later the Hawks would have three Cups and they would look at you like you were insane. And here we are, roughly ten years after the Sharp trade… Three Stanley Cups.

All of the Hawks’ success obviously cannot be accredited to Sharp alone. He had pieces drafted around him with the names of Kane, Toews, and many others. But Patrick Sharp was a central part of the Blackhawks’ renaissance as a franchise. He was arguably the central cog of the whole operation. Like any player, Sharp had his scoring slumps from time to time. But he never dogged it. I don’t remember ever complaining about Sharp not giving his best effort for the team.

It will be emotional and odd to see Patrick Sharp in a green Stars jersey next season. Trading away aging players is sadly the nature of our salary cap era. But I guess all we can say is thank you… Thank you for everything.

As a tribute to Sharpie, here are my five favorite Patrick Sharp goals in a Blackhawks uniform.

#1 – 2009 Western Conference Finals Game 3 vs. Detroit OT Winner

This was a special goal for a multitude of reasons. It was the first “big game” OT winner in my memory as a Blackhawks fan, in the Hawks first trip to the Conference Finals since 1992. Second, it was a goal against rival Detroit that closed the series gap to 2-1. The Hawks eventually lost this series in five, but this Sharp goal sticks out as the best memory.

#2 – 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 4 vs. Boston

This game was one of the most chaotic playoff games in the last few seasons. Near the end of a crucial 5-on-3, Sharp was able to deliver and poke one past Rask to give the Blackhawks a 5-4 third period lead. It wasn’t the game winner, but it helped the Hawks to a 6-5 win in overtime to tie the series 2-2. We all know what happened after that.

#3 – 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 6 vs. Philadelphia

This was huge. After Briere’s goal earlier in the period gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead in Game 6, Sharp responded with this huge 4-on-4 goal to tie the game at two. The Blackhawks would take a 3-2 lead and eventually win the game, and their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, in overtime.

#4 – 2010 Western Conference Semifinal Game 2 vs. Vancouver

This goal might not even jog the memory of many Blackhawks fans considering what happened after it. This series is most remembered by Versteeg’s game-winner later in Game 2, and Toews and Byfuglien’s hat tricks in Games 3 and 4. But this goal in the third period of Game 2 may have saved the series, and the season for the Hawks. Trailing in the series 1-0, and 2-1 in the third of Game 2, this shorthanded goal by Sharp tied the game that would eventually end up as a 4-2 Hawks win. Without Sharp’s goal here, the Hawks are possibly looking at a 2-0 hole going to Vancouver, and maybe no Stanley Cup.

#5 – 2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay

Probably the easiest goal of Patrick Sharp’s career is definitely one of the most memorable. Scoreless in the first period of a pivotal Game 5 in Tampa, Sharp was there to put the puck into an empty net when Victor Hedman collided with Ben Bishop in the middle of their zone. Not the prettiest goal, but it gave the Hawks a big 1-0 lead in a game they eventually won 2-1 en route to their third Stanley Cup in six years.

Thank you, Sharpie.