If not for his ability on skates and a rather lackluster interest in the family business, Patrick Sharp could be preparing to make doughnuts rather than for his ninth NHL season.

As a 16-year-old in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the Blackhawks winger gave a shot at following in his father's footsteps when he took a job at one of the Robin's Donuts shops his dad, Ian, help found across Canada. It didn't last long.

"I was more concerned with reading the newspaper and watching TV in the back than I was serving the customers," Sharp said. "I was always thinking about the next hockey practice or the summer team I was playing on. I never really had a passion for Robin's Donuts."

What Sharp always had a passion for was hockey.

"It's one of those stories where they ask you in grade school what you want to be when you grow up and I always just wanted to be a hockey player," he said.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Sharp is not just an ordinary hockey player. The 31-year-old is a Stanley Cup champion, an NHL All-Star Game MVP and a key component for the Hawks, who will open the season Saturday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings in Los Angeles.

Sharp's game has improved steadily since the Hawks acquired him from the Flyers via a 2005 trade and he has developed into one of the league's top two-way players as well as a leader in the dressing room.

"I wasn't like Patrick (Kane) or Jonathan (Toews) starting fast in my career at 18 or 19 years old," Sharp said. "It took me a while to really get my feet wet. Since 24 or 25, I've improved every year, not just with the numbers but with more responsibility from the coaching staff and more minutes. I feel like I have a lot of good years left and I'm definitely looking to build on what I've done in the past.

"I don't want to look back at the end of my career with regrets knowing I didn't reach my full potential."