Grinders: the superstars of the NHL
Good bye highlight reel all-star, hello working class hockey hero. Rory Fitzpatrick is not what you would call an NHL All-star, but you wouldn't guess this from the amount of votes Fitzpatrick is amassing. Fitzpatrick is second for Western conference All-star defensemen, just a mere 19,000 votes behind Scott Niedermayer. Fitzpatrick's sudden rise in fame comes thanks to Steve Schmid, a Sabres fan. Schmid watched Fitzpatrick's performance at the Canucks Super Skills Competition and was struck with inspiration. Schmid explains, "Rory came to mind because of his prowess in the Canucks' skills competition, where he had the most accurate shot (Fitzpatrick hit the four targets on five shots)." From there Schmid played out the idea on HFBoards (Hockey's Future) and claims that people within the forums urged him to make a website. And that my friends is what they call history. Vote for Pedro shirts are now being replaced by Vote for Rory shirts. Not only are players throughout the league left scratching their heads, even Fitzpatrick himself is left feeling a little unsure, "I don’t know how to take it yet,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think it’s kind of funny. All the guys (on the team) are having fun with it.” If Fitzpatrick is not taking himself seriously, why would anyone else? Schmid isn't necessarily trying to make this about Fitzpatrick, rather, he is attempting to make a statement about the state that the game of hockey is in today. He is trying to get Gary Bettman to reassess the voting system for the All-star game, "the initial thought was to get a hard-working underrated guy into the All-Star game, kind of an underdog,” Schmid said. "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!" Clearly Schmid is trying to show Bettman that the game does in fact belong to the fans. Instead of taking the same classic highlight players every year, perhaps this All-star game will be a little different. Perhaps the new face of hockey is one that recognizes the grinders and the hard workers, as well as the top goal scorers. And that is an NHL that I would like to see and an NHL All-star game I will wait for with baited breath.