Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why Rory won't go

"I’m not disappointed in falling a spot. If I fall a couple more spots that would be even better. That way there’d be no chance of me having to make a decision on whether to play in the game. Then everybody who thinks this is so important and has personal things to say can drop it and move on to the next story."
It was something that, when it started, was a lot of fun.

At least most hockey fans saw it that way. Even those who had never heard of Rory Fitzpatrick got on board, and supported the upstart internet campaign with a good-natured fervour that simply couldn't have succeeded on ill-will for the NHL alone.

But what that campaign has become now is anything but fun — and especially for the man at the centre of things. Wednesday morning in Vancouver, Fitzpatrick was preparing for the second game of a back-to-back contest with the Calgary Flames, but after practice, that night's game wasn't the topic of conversation in the media scrums.

The latest all-star vote totals were.

Fitzpatrick inexplicably fell to third over the past week — something that seems downright impossible barring outside influence given the momentum the campaign had gained in previous weeks — and it was, once again, up to the fringe defenceman to hold court for the masses and offer a sound bites for that afternoon's hourly sports updates.

"Have you ever received this much attention before?" Fitzpatrick was asked.

No, no he hadn't.

"How do you feel about the negative comments regarding the attempt to vote him into the all-star game?"

And on and on it went, with Fitzpatrick sheepishly answering questions about a phenomenon he'd, in the beginning, tried to embrace without fully knowing where the Yellow Brick Road led.

All throughout the campaign to 'Vote for Rory', much has been made of Fitzpatrick as the NHL's everyman, an average player who deserves the chance to represent all of the league's lunch-pail types. The thing is, however, that what Fitzpatrick really represents is the fringe, the anti-all-star — a 31-year-old player who has just 232 career games to his name and fewer goals than fingers and toes. His first big break into free agency this past summer, in a year ripe with over-the-top contracts to blueliners, was a search, really, for a one-way contract — something he found for $525,000 with a Canucks team desperate to fill out its back end with as many buys from the bargain bin as possible.

He's no everyman.

And he's also not used to the spotlight, for obvious reasons. To be suddenly thrust into the open as part of something that was derided openly from Don Cherry's weekly pulpit for the masses, well, that's was never what he bargained for — even when he wore the T-shirt in jest.

Fitzpatrick, at this point, wants to return to being Rory Fitzpatrick — the third-pairing blueliner who's helping Vancouver claw towards a playoff spot. He'd just as soon leave behind the postpractice scrums, the recognition, the bloated Wikipedia entry and his place as a footnote in NHL history as the almost all-star that the talking heads couldn't pooh-pooh quickly enough.

Even if somehow the voting fortunes change and the NHL extends open arms to him, Fitzpatrick has no desire to prolong the ruse that's snowballed into something bigger and uglier than was ever intended.

Vote away — but Rory won't go.

And, once again, the hammerheads of the hockey world will get their way.


At 5:17 a.m., December 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really didn't understand your point. If Rory's not an everyman, if he doesn't endorse the campaign, who are the hammerheads?

At 11:32 a.m., December 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

initially, i thought the vote for rory campaign was wonderful. one of the more appealing quirks of hockey fans is their abiding love for the 'everymen' and underdogs. sure, most everyone appreciates the all-star caliber players, but every hockey fan has a few 'anti all-stars'- guys who are not just ordinary but downright disappointing- that they root for. what a lot of us love about the game can't be reduced to who has the best numbers. i thought the VFR campaign expressed that.

but i think the attention from the MSM has sort of ruined it, by making it into this huge pressure on fitzpatrick himself. i mean, he knows he's not pronger, but it's gotta be depressing to be constantly having people remind you of all the things you aren't. it pulled out of the woodwork all the weirdos who feel like the term 'all-star' is a meaningful designation.

however the voting goes, i hope fitzpatrick does whatever he feels is right and understands that those of us who participated in this crazy thing didn't wish him this kind of stress.

At 12:21 p.m., December 28, 2006, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

Chiqui has a pretty good post on this as well

Self-important writers tearing down the unwashed masses is nothing new. They need the game to be relevant, in their eyes, to make themselves relevant.

At 12:29 p.m., December 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The veil of goodwill towards Rory was thin at best. It was always a joke, and the joke was on Rory.

I'm sure it was fun, in a mob mentality/stick it to the man kind of way, but it never felt right to me.

At 2:31 p.m., December 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NHL should invite Fitzpatrick to the festivities as it's celebrity spokesman. Show the fans some good will and enjoy the spirit in which it was intended. Too many people in the NHL want to take the joy out of the game.

At 8:13 p.m., December 28, 2006, Blogger sean said...

I think is is rude and inappropriate the way people are talking about rory. He did not do this himself and should not bet talked so badly about as a result of it. comment on the allstar game, NHL, or otherwise but there is no point in trashing this guy.

At 12:39 p.m., December 29, 2006, Anonymous Scott said...

Yeah, I find I've had to turn the radio off when the Vancouver sports media start taking shots at Rory-Dave Pratt I'm looking at you.It's been two weeks straight of "it makes a mockery of the game, etc", all from blowhards who rarely have the nerve to criticize the mockery Bettman's made of the league. I'll look forward to next year when they, and Cherry, and Kypreos give the All-Star Game the respect they demanded it have this year.

At 9:44 a.m., January 02, 2007, Blogger girlysportsrant said...

I think is is rude and inappropriate the way people are talking about rory. He did not do this himself and should not bet talked so badly about as a result of it. comment on the allstar game, NHL, or otherwise but there is no point in trashing this guy.


He did. Once he put on the t-shirt and posed for the camera. He was responsible. It's is a shame that its turned ugly.


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