A vote for the little guy
One of the unfortunate side effects of the 'Vote for Rory' campaign to this point has been the backlash against the grassroots effort — and even Rory Fitzpatrick himself — something that Andy at the Battle of Alberta did a nice job of addressing yesterday.
Both the Edmonton Journal and Montreal Gazette ran pieces in the past few days that blast what's gone on with the all-star voting to this point, and the local sportstalk radio meatheads have been braying in full force, but to me, it seems there's simply a fundamental misunderstanding of what's happening here.
Some of the things I was asked when CBC Radio in Edmonton interviewed me last week about 'Vote for Rory' was: 'How should people react to this? Is this cause for concern? And isn't this just a case of legions of pranksters making a mockery of the online voting system?'
To me, the only appropriate response there can be to this whole thing is to have a great big belly laugh, get in the spirit of things and, well, vote for Rory. No one has broken any rules here, and if, as the league presumably intended, hockey fans can 'get out the vote' for anyone they well please as many times as they please, then why in the hell can't they send Rory Fitzpatrick to Dallas in January?
If anything, the 'vote for Rory' following has generated far more press and interest in a fan ballot that no one — hockey fan or not — gives a hoot about. And my guess is, should Rory actually get voted in and play in the game, even more attention will be paid to what's really become a snorer of a money-making exercise.
To his credit, Fitzpatrick has really played along with the whole ordeal, even putting on a few 'campaign' T-shirts and mugging for the local press corps last week in Vancouver. And while there have been calls from some — namely Bill Watters from Toronto radio program Leafs Lunch and Nick Kypreos from Sportsnet — telling Rory to not attend the game if voted in (Watters) or calling the journeyman defender a 'slug' (Kypreos), I think it would be precisely in the spirit of the all-star game if the fans got what they wanted.
Rory Fitzpatrick seems like a great guy, a good representation of what I'd like to think a hockey player is, and I'd like to see him at the all-star game — if only to stick a thumb up in the face of all those pooh-poohing what I believe was a good-natured and well-intended campaign to vote for the little guy.
So, if you haven't yet, go do it: Vote for Rory. I know I will be.