Friday, December 08, 2006

Roaring to get Rory to the all star game

He hasn’t played a game in a month, he’s at best a journeyman player in the NHL and if the ballot stuffing ways of the internet are any indication, Rory Fitzpatrick could very well be an all star selection by the time they drop the puck in Dallas in January.

Fitzpatrick who probably is at best at the lower end of the defensive depth chart on the Canucks, presently finds himself more in demand than Chris Pronger (perhaps he has a large fan base in Edmonton eh) Sergei Zubov and Dion Phaneuf (again that Edmonton base), If he’s looking to mail out a thank you card he direct his mail towards a Buffalo hockey fan, who has been busy pumping up Fitzpatrick for the game.

Steven Schmid launched the vote for Rory campaign with a website that seems to have caught the attention of hockey fans. Fitzpatrick from near by Rochester, NY is apparently a crowd favourite in Northern New York and they all seem to be computer literate. So far the site has received over 102 thousand hits as hockey fans browse the site to learn more about the sports most in demand write in candidate.

The Canuck’s have even gotten in on the act, not only have his team mates voted early and voted often, but the team has been busy producing Vote For Rory tee shirts for sale at Canuck games, a move that is sure to bring a phone call from the league head office in the not too distant future.

While it’s all in good fun, and Fitzpatrick would be living out the dream of every Canadian (or American) kid that ever put on a pair of skates, the fact that he’s even in the running points out how far the all star game has fallen as far as being a meaningful event. Back in the day, it was a battle between the league’s best players and the Stanley Cup champions, form there the conference system came into place where East would play West in a no hit, figure skating display of pass the puck.

The all star game doesn’t have much in relation to the NHL of today, even with the crackdown on violence and fouls. It very much is simply a skills competition, one which normally a journeyman wouldn’t be attending as a participant.

But as the votes roll in, Fitzpatrick gained 113,509 votes this week alone, more than any other Western Conference player, there’s every chance that Rory will be there on game day.
While it seems foolish in a way, still perhaps Fitzpatrick would appreciate the invite more than some of the higher salaried stars who seem to treat the game like an imposition on their vacation time.

Fitzpatrick is currently sidelined form the Canucks lineup after taking a hit on his ankle on November 6th, he might want to keep an eye on Gary Bettman between now and January, you never know when Bob Clarke may be sent over the boards.

In the end the NHL has nobody to blame but themselves, they created the system which left them ripe for ridicule. If each team were to end up with their own Rory Fitzpatrick nominated it might be a wake up call to make the game more meaningful.

However, in a sport crying out for media attention in the USA, the saga of Rory Fitzpatrick is gaining them much attention. It may not be exactly what they wanted, but as they say as long as you spell the name right…

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