Patrick Sharp—called Sharpie by his teammates—joined the Chicago Blackhawks midway through the 2005–06 season, and he’s been on an upward trajectory since then, with a breakout season in 2007, becoming assistant captain in 2008, playing a pivotal role in the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and being named MVP of the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. The 29-year-old grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and on a trip there last summer, he demonstrated that even pro hockey players aren’t above reveling in corny hijinks: During Sharp’s turn with the Cup, he and his older brother, Chris, held a family Ping-Pong championship for the prize. “He won the game,” Sharp says. “But I’d lifted the Cup over my head about 50 times that day, so I decided to let him win.”

Tell me about winning the Stanley Cup last year. When did you realize the winning goal by Patrick Kane had gone in?
I was one of the few guys on the ice that knew right away. I was on the ice with Kaner [Patrick Kane] and waiting for a pass from him. He decided to shoot it.

So you saw it go in?
I saw it go in right away, and I did my best to catch up with him, but he was skating down the ice. I was chasing after him, and I was just praying that they didn’t call it back. We would have looked pretty stupid celebrating.

Did you realize people were confused about what had happened?
I knew that the Flyers’ fans didn’t want it to count. And they didn’t want to believe it. I was just waiting for the full announcement so we could have the celebration.

So what was the off-season like for you?
It was real different, that’s for sure. I also got married at the end of July. It’s [a summer] I’ll never forget.

Talk about the Victoria’s Secret thing—a couple of years ago, you were named Chicago’s sexiest athlete, but then Victoria’s Secret gave it to the Bulls star Derrick Rose in a recount. Did you get a lot of grief about that?
It was kind of funny when I was first told about it. I chuckled to myself. I didn’t realize how big a story it was going to turn into. All my teammates heard about it. I’m still paying a price for it.

And now we’re calling you a beautiful person. Do you expect to get more grief?
Yeah, I probably will, but nobody knows about it here just yet, so . . . 

You’ve avoided making news for bad reasons. Do you consider yourself a pretty calm guy when it comes to nightlife?
I certainly had my time in college. I think anyone who’s been to university—or especially the University of Vermont—knows how to have some fun, and I did. But [my wife, Abby, has] been with me for ten years now, and we’ve been through a lot. It was a great weekend getting married, and things have been awesome ever since.

What does she think of this kind of stuff?
She laughs and shakes her head. She says that people don’t know the real Patrick. She always says, “If people actually met you, you wouldn’t be getting all this kind of stuff.” She’s proud of it—I guess.