This year, the NHL is using the Internet to allow fans to vote for 12 players to its All Star Game taking place Jan 24th in Dallas – 6 players from the Eastern Conference and 6 from the Western conference. Voting is unrestricted and unlimited. The usual cast of NHL superstars are on the ballot like Scott Niedermayer, Joe Sakic, and Jarome Iginla. But, there is also a place where you can “write-in” a player who is not on the current ballot – see here. This is where it gets interesting. 22-year old Steve Schmid, a Buffalo Sabres fan has launched a site called VoteforRory.com where he is calling upon hockey fans to vote ex-Sabres and current Vancouver Canucks defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick to the All Star game. Rory who? Yes, that’s the point. Although Rory Fitzpatrick has been around for a while, playing back and forth between the NHL and AHL, he isn’t a “superstar” by any stretch and wouldn’t ever be mistaken for Chris Pronger or Niklas Lidstrom by his own admission. Nevertheless, the hockey forums are all buzzing with the “Vote for Rory” campaign, and it’s picking up a lot of steam. Some online fans are committing to “Rory Diets”, where they will do nothing else for 24 hours but sit in front of the computer and vote for Rory as many times as they can. As of a Nov 27th NHL press release, Rory has 31,310 votes and is the ONLY “write-in” player on the list. The voting ends Jan 2nd.
Fans are posting Rory Fitzpatrick montages to YouTube and bringing “Vote for Rory” signs to games. His current team, the Vancouver Canucks, has issued an official post on its site and their support for the movement. In fact, the Canucks have started selling “Vote for Rory” t-shirts inspired by the Napoleon Dynamite movie and it has already become a hot seller. Even his teammates are getting in on the action wearing the t-shirts and expressing their support in media scrums.
So what is Steve’s motivation? Is it to show a flaw in the NHL’s new Internet-based voting system? Publicity? Or, is it because he just happens to be a huge Rory Fitzpatrick fan. Well, according to his site, it appears to be a little bit of everything:
Everyone has their reasons for voting, but the general consensus is that Rory is the perfect representative for all the players who work hard “behind the scenes” and never get any recognition. Myself and many others view the All-Star game as an exhibition for the fans. That said, the fans want to see Rory Fitzpatrick… simple as that!
I don’t think this is what the NHL brass quite had in mind when they decided to let fans vote through the net. But, since I’m a long-suffering Canucks fan, any time we have a chance at winning something, I’m behind it. So, Rory you’ve got my vote. Clear your calendar, you’re going to Dallas! If you would also like to see Rory at the All Star game, vote now.