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MVP Sharp sticks it to ’em

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



RALEIGH, N.C. — Jonathan Toews’ demeanor said it all. The Blackhawks center, who’s epitomized by his seriousness, was relaxed, funny and content Sunday night at the All-Star Game.

In the end, it was just good for Toews and his Hawks All-Star teammates — defenseman Duncan Keith and forwards Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane — and their coaches — Joel Quenneville and Mike Haviland — to get away from the grind of a season marred by inconsistencies.

‘‘It’s different because you’re always answering the same questions [elsewhere],’’ Toews said. ‘‘Back home, it’s always about a win or loss and what you have to do. Sometimes you just talk about the simple things, what the team needs to do better and this and that.

‘‘[At the All-Star Game], it’s just a lot of guys mixing it up and having fun with the media and the fans. It’s a good time for everybody.’’

By the end of the weekend, nobody had a better time than Sharp, who was named the MVP of the game after a goal, two assists, five shots and a plus-2 rating. It may have been in a losing effort, as Nicklas Lidstrom’s team defeated Eric Staal’s team 11-10, but Sharp did more than enough to show he belongs among the league’s best

Sharp, the Hawks’ leading goal scorer, was one of the most notable omissions on the All-Star ballot when it came out in November. The NHL added him to the All-Star Game this month, but being named MVP is vindication.

‘‘I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bothered by it,’’ Sharp said of the ballot. ‘‘It was motivation to play well. . . . I’m proud to be a Blackhawk in the All-Star Game, and things worked out.’’

It was even better to do it in front of his parents, Ian and Ruth Ann Sharp, after inclement weather affected their travel plans. The Sharps’ flight from Newark, N.J., was canceled, but they were fortunate enough to meet people from Raleigh, jump in a minivan and drive from midnight to 8 a.m. to make the game.

Sharp said the Honda Crosstour EX-L he received for winning the MVP award most likely will go to his other brother, Chris.

‘‘I played hockey because my older brother did,” Sharp said. “We are the standard hockey family. It’s my brother and I, and we both played. It seemed like every other day my mom and dad were driving to a rink to either pick us up or drop us off.’’

Sharp has bragging rights over Kane, Keith and especially Toews. Keith and Kane each finished with an assist Sunday. Toews, who needed a second chance to defeat Sharp in the accuracy challenge Saturday, had a goal and two assists.

‘‘I’ll be sure to bring it up a few times,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘Jonathan and I have some unfinished business with the accuracy shooting. . . . We’ll have to do something back in Chicago.’’

Quenneville, who coached Team Staal, said it will be easy to switch from fun to work after All-Star weekend. And there’s a lot to be done with 32 games left in the regular season. Practices resume today.

Sharp, Kane, Toews and Keith will re-join the Hawks tonight in Columbus, Ohio, before a meeting with the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

‘‘It was fun, and it was a change of pace,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘We’ll get back, and [for] the second part of the season, let’s really take off from here.’’

Keith said he enjoyed hanging out with old Hawks teammates Dustin Byfuglien and Martin Havlat — who joined him on Team Lidstrom — and getting ‘‘away from the regular grind.’’

But the rest of the season — and a tight playoff race — was still in the back of his mind.

‘‘You never completely just leave it behind,’’ Keith said. ‘‘We’ll move on [today] and get ready for Columbus.’’



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