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Blackhawks keep Patrick Sharp in their future with 5-year extension

Hawks general manager Stan Bowman (left) had long planned keep Patrick Sharp as part Hawks' core.  |  Scott

Hawks general manager Stan Bowman (left) had long planned to keep Patrick Sharp as part of the Hawks' core. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Patrick Sharp’s new deal, which carries an annual $5.9  million cap hit, will make him one of the highest paid Hawks. 2011-12 cap hits:

Patrick Kane $6.3 million

Jonathan Toews $6.3 million

Brent Seabrook $5.8 million

Duncan Keith $5.538 million

Marian Hossa $5.275 million

Patrick Sharp $3.9 million

Niklas Hjalmarsson $3.5 million

Dave Bolland $3.375 million

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Updated: November 2, 2011 7:04PM

For the last two years, Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp has been pressed on numerous occasions about two things:

What are the latest developments with his contract negotiations?

And which position — wing or center — does he prefer to play?

Only one of those topics remained unsettled Wednesday, when Sharp and the Hawks agreed on a five-year extension worth $29.5 million that will keep him with the team through the 2016-17 season.

Sharp, who’s in the final year of his current contract, will have an annual $5.9 million cap hit with his new deal, compared with $3.9 million this season. General manager Stan Bowman said the contract contains a ‘‘modified’’ no-trade clause similar to what defenseman Brent Seabrook and other Hawks have.

‘‘With the extension of the contract, when things are said and done, it might be 10 to 12 years as a Blackhawk,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘To me, that’s a heck of a career. Hopefully it goes longer than that. I definitely consider myself a Blackhawk, and I don’t want to play anywhere else. There are so many reasons to want to stay here.’’

Bowman has long said the plan was to keep Sharp, despite rampant speculation he could be traded, especially last summer, when the salary cap forced the Hawks to break up their roster.

Discussions with Sharp’s agent Rick Curran began at the draft. The goal was to avoid negotiations dragging into the season and possibly becoming a distraction for Sharp, who admitted his contract status could be ‘‘a constant battle throughout the course of the season.’’

‘‘He’s just a very important part of this team,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘To have him always hounded by questions, he’s a prominent player — he’s not just a good player on the team. It’s part of being a professional athlete, dealing with distractions, but it can become a distraction in a negative way, and I preferred not to have that.’’

Sharp, 29, said he never thought about testing free agency next summer, though he likely could have gotten more money. One of the more versatile players in the NHL, he led the Hawks with 34 goals last season and finished with a career-best 71 points in 74 games. He also was the most valuable player of the All-Star Game.

‘‘Money is great — there’s no question about that,” said Sharp, who has scored 150 goals in the regular season for the Hawks since being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in December 2005. “But I told [Curran] I wanted to be in Chicago, and I have no reason to leave.’’

Sharp is the last player to be re-signed from the ‘‘core’’ — a term that’s overused, Bowman and Sharp say. The Hawks now have Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland, Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Corey Crawford, Michael Frolik and Steve Montador locked in together for at least the next three years.

Most of them, like Sharp, have longer deals.

‘‘It’s nice to know that that core has won a Stanley Cup before,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘I know we aren’t solely responsible for it. It’s a team effort. But you look at players like Toews, Kane, Hossa, Bolland, Seabrook, Keith. You know that’s a heck of a start right there.’’

With Sharp’s deal finalized, it wasn’t long before the first question about his ever-changing spot.

‘‘We always joke with each other when you guys are asking what position I like to play,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘I’m sure I’ll play games with Kane and Toews. I’m sure with [Ben] Smith and Hossa. Whoever is in the lineup, I’m sure I’ll play with them over the course of the season.’’

And the next five seasons after that.

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