Patrick Sharp wants to laugh about it all. But when he talked Sunday about the salacious rumors swirling about his personal life on social media and talk radio this week, his voice was a bit wobbly, and his eyes a bit watery.
“It is laughable, it’s comical,” Sharp said. “But when it affects your family, when you’ve got two little girls at home and your parents are calling you, it takes a toll.”
The Blackhawks addressed the elephant in the dressing room following Sunday’s practice, and firmly denied what Sharp called “false” rumors that have run rampant on social media. In the past few days, a local radio host talked of discord within the dressing room and off-ice personal issues, a former pro football player tweeted about a fist-fight and a divided dressing room, and a website has been offering money for tips about Sharp and Hawks’ personal lives, while posting allegations of infidelity.
Three sources told the Sun-Times on Thursday that there was no fight among Hawks anytime recently, and that there’s no division within the room. Brent Seabrook, unsolicited, reiterated that point on Sunday.
“Being a leader on this team, I think this team’s never been tighter,” Seabrook said. “We’ve never been a tighter group. Some of the rumors that have been said, I think are laughable. You know, there’s nothing going on in this locker room. I’ve been here 10 years and nothing’s been going on, so we’re a tight group. We’ve got everybody’s back here and we’re focused on our jobs, which is getting into the Stanley Cup playoffs, first and foremost, and winning another championship.”
Sharp said he’s considering legal action to try to stop the rumors from spreading further.
“You hear things said about people all the time — it’s like anybody can type something on a computer and get away with it and not be held responsible or accountable,” he said.
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Sharp also admitted that the speculation might be affecting his play. The Hawks’ leading scorer last season, Sharp has no goals and two assists in his last 15 games. He played just 12 minutes and eight seconds Friday at Tampa Bay, a season low for him.
“It all goes hand in hand,” he said. “If you’re feeling good, that translates on the ice. Looking at specifically hockey, I’ve been injured this year, battled back, had some tough stretches and had some good stretches. But I’m feeling good about the way I’m playing, I know I’m on a good line, have good teammates with me and things are going to break through.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he spoke with Sharp about it on Sunday morning.
“Obviously, it was affecting him, it was bothering him,” Quenneville said. “We’re working our way through it as a team, as a staff. I think he’ll be fine.”
Perhaps to underscore his point that there’s no internal strife among the Hawks, Sharp said that the dressing room has been his haven lately.
“As a hockey player, as a professional, you’re out there, and you’re up for grabs for on-ice play,” he said. “I’m OK with that. Trade rumors, talk about my play on the ice — I’m fine with that, I can handle that. But when people delve into your personal life and make up rumors and things that are completely false and untrue, it takes a toll on you. And it takes a toll on your family, your friends, and it’s completely unnecessary. It’s been tough, but I know I’ve got a strong group of teammates here, we’re going to stick together.”