"It's amazing how a uniform can change the way you feel about a guy."

Once upon a time, Patrick Sharp was a seldom-used center for the Ken Hitchcock-led Philadelphia Flyers, toiling to the tune of roughly eight minutes of ice time per night.

After 66 games, 10 goals and five different jersey numbers, then-general manager Bobby Clarke decided Sharp was expendable and started shopping the former third-round draft pick.

Philadelphia seemed set with 21-year-old Jeff Carter, veteran Peter Forsberg, R.J. Umberger, Mike Richards and Michal Handzus at the center position and were determined to add depth at the wing.

Little did Clarke know Sharp possessed enough skill at each position, and on Dec. 5, 2005, Dale Tallon pulled off a steal.

From an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer the following day:

“Patrick is a natural center, not a wing, and we have too many centers,” Hitchcock said. “That’s all this is about. We had too many centers.”


Tallon gladly surrendered a 2006 third-round draft pick and the winger Hitchcock craved – Matt Ellison. Sharp would go on to score a career-high 36 goals from the right wing position in 2007-08 after netting 20 from the wing the previous season in Chicago.

As for Ellison? He played seven total games for the Flyers, notching one assist. He’s now playing in the KHL.

The humorous part of the entire deal remains that Clarke was searching for a versitle player who could play both wing and center and felt Ellison – not Sharp – was the answer.

“We felt that with all the injuries we have had that Matt would bring more versatility to our lineup,” Clarke said. “He can play center and wing. We always felt that Patrick was a better center. We have lots of centers, even though we have some injuries right now. We just felt that Matt was a better fit for our team, although we realize that we gave up a good young player.”

Ya think?

During five-plus seasons in Chicago, Sharp has scored 150 handsome goals with 151 assists while playing at each position. It can be argued he’s flourished more at the center position and likely will be the Blackhawks’ second-line center this season. His two-way play has been noted despite some lapses last season, as he finished fourth in the Selke voting in 2007-08 – as a winger.

The offensive numbers and defensive capabilities Philadelphia sought from their wings could’ve been solved with Sharp, and Tallon saw the potential in him.

Another Flyers’ loss is a Blackhawks’ gain – and a handsome one at that.

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