Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hey Now, You're an All-Star

I've watched the All-Star game faithfully for years, but I barely remember the game a half hour later. However I really love the skills competitions. Even before I met my husband - the first real hockey fan in my life - I knew Ray Bourque had a scarily accurate slapshot. I didn't really see enough of hockey back then to follow any particular team, but I was a sports nut and I enjoyed watching guys who were clearly amazing athletes show their stuff. As thrilled as I am about the possibility of Brian Campbell, Ryan Miller, and le petit Briere starting this year, I'm really the most excited to see Maxim Afinogenov in the fastest man race. For me, that's what the All-Star game really is.

The All-Star voting itself has always been more about name recognition than merit, I think. I'm sure it's awesome when you make your first All-Star team because it means people - fans, coaches, players - are taking note of what you're doing and saying you belong with the big boys. Brian Campbell has been interviewed a few times throughout the process about the All-Star game - once when it was first announced his name was on the ballot and a couple of times during the voting - and while he can joke all he wants about his surge in the voting coming around the time his mom was on holiday, it clearly means something to him. His eyes brighten and he sounds genuinely amazed and touched that anyone thinks him worthy of selection. He's so sweet, I have no doubt that when it's announced that he's a starter (I'm hoping) somewhere he'll be crying adorable little tears of joy. All that said, once you're in the club, I don't know, does it really mean that much? Are you as excited the fifth time as you were the first time? When you're still making teams even though your on-ice play isn't as good as it used to be, does the selection - and in turn the game itself - really mean anything? Maybe it does. Hockey players do seem to be of a different ilk. As much as I love baseball, baseball players have really started to get on my nerves with all their bitching and moaning about playing in an exhibition game and losing their three days off. God, suck it up. Next year I'll remember not to vote for your sorry moaning ass. But I digress...

When the "Vote for Rory" campaign first started, I hated it for a couple of reasons. First of all, for me Rory will always be the guy who failed to clear the puck that Henrik Tallinder, Teppo Numminen, Dmitri Kalinin, or Jay McKee would've cleared in the last game of the ECF last year. (I know, I know. It's possible none of those guys would've cleared it before Brind'Amour got to it. Let me have my whiny moment, people!) But mostly I don't buy the idea that the guys who started the campaign were trying to honor one of the unsung heroes of hockey. No offense, but Rory Fitzpatrick isn't one of those guys. Unsung perhaps. Heroic? Come on. If you're going to put your power behind someone, put it behind someone who really does make a difference for his team in unnoticed, unheralded ways. For example, vote for someone like Paul Gaustad who clearly makes a difference when he's on the ice but doesn't necessarily show up on the scoresheet very often. (Note: I'm not using Gaustad as an example because I think he should be an All-Star. I'm just using him because the Sabres are my frame of reference. I'm sure most teams have a Gaustad like player.) No matter how much meaning people have tried to put behind the "Vote for Rory" campaign, to me it just seems like a joke that got out of hand.

However, once the Wayne Gretzkys and Don Cherrys of the world started complaining about "Vote for Rory" and what a joke it was and how embarassing it was, I started to like it. (Contrarian at heart!) Come on, guys... It's an exhibiton game! Is Nicklas Lidstrom really going to be upset if he has to go to the All-Star game as a coach's selection instead of as a starter? He's already started in 42 of these things! When he hits the Hall of Fame ballot are we going to keep him out because he didn't make the All-Star team back in 2006-2007? It's an exhibtion game! It's never really been about who's having the best season or who's the most deserving. It's about who the fans want to see. If 50,000 people want to see Rory Fitzpatrick, for whatever cock-eyed reason, then let them see Rory Fitzpatrick! All the signs and videos people have created to go with the Rory campaign are great - funny, entertaining, clever. I especially love the anti-Lidstrom, Pronger, and Niedermayer videos. Are you seriously going to tell me that it's bad that people are talking about and noticing hockey? Lighten up and have some fun, guys! It won't hurt, I promise!

So while I originally refused to vote for Rory, I did cave and throw him a vote yesterday while casting my last couple (or 20) votes for Brian Campbell. Have I mentioned that I really, really want him to make the team?

ETA: I forgot... I have no doubt these new unis are going to be terrible. I just know when I see Buffalo's NEW, MODERN logo on one of those tight, tucked in jerseys next season, I'm gonna want to stab myself in the eyes.

EATA: What the bloody hell?! How can a team that's so good 5 on 5 be so bloody TERRIBLE with an advantage? How how how how how?!?!?!?!? Geez, if we're outplaying you just take a penalty and you'll be home free. We'll give you the damn puck. And if Henrik Tallinder is hurt badly, I'm ripping all my hair out because there goes our friggin' penalty kill too.


Shan said...

I guess they'll be calling it the Almost-All-Star game.

Loxy said...

Despite Rory being a member of the Canucks, I voted for him - once at the start of the campaign.

And when the Don Cherry's started arguing against it, I supported it all the more. It's a representation of all the guys that never play in the game.

And it's just for fun! If the guy who didn't make it because of Rory is a real all-star, he'll make it next year instead.

gercohen said...

Find complete updated coverage of the Rory Fitzpatrick campaign here

this hLog post quoted here

Loxy said...

Check out the main "Vote for Rory" page at

Jordi said...

I love the ads they make for it, like the "EFFORTLESS" one. I enjoyed the Vote for Rory thing. It's kind of poking fun at the holes in this voting yet at the same time it's bringing in some sort of great promotion for the game. I only wish this could be duplicated for other unappreciated people snubbed over for the race.