SI gives props
Sports Illustrated’s hockey columnist Alan Muir has signed on to the Rory Fitzpatrick write-in campaign.
“Fan balloting ends on Jan. 2. As of yesterday, Fitzpatrick is still more than 150,000 votes off the pace. But as this week’s numbers prove, a lot of ground can be made up in four weeks. If the NHL plays its cards right, Rory Fitzpatrick is a shoo-in. And the game will be better for it.
Instead of sweeping this under the carpet — as it may have done in the early vote counts — the NHL needs to embrace this effort. Because, in case the league didn’t recognize it, this is opportunity knocking.
What started out as a little joke for the most hardcore of hockey devotees has the potential to capture the attention of sports fans across North America — most of whom wouldn’t know Sidney Crosby from Sidney Bristow.
Fitzpatrick’s inclusion in the ranks of the stellar might even get some of those otherwise oblivious fans to tune into the game on Jan. 23 just to see how Everyman does. Once there, they’ll be exposed to the game’s long-term selling points, like Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Joe Thornton.
That’s why the NHL needs to take ownership of the Fitzpatrick hype. NBC is broadcasting the game. The league should be on the phone today working the cross-promotional angle.
It started off slowly, but Schmid’s campaign has snowballed over the last 10 days. The most recent vote count, released by the NHL on Wednesday, revealed that — unbelievably — Fitzpatrick sits in fifth place among Western Conference blueliners with nearly 150,000 votes. He trails Niedermayer, Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Dion Phaneuf, but he is ahead of 2006 Norris Trophy finalist Sergei Zubov and Team Canada staples Rob Blake, Robyn Regehr and Scott Hannan.
Pretty impressive for a write-in candidate.
More impressive are the trends. Fitzpatrick led all Western Conference vote- getters during the last week — by a healthy margin. Amazingly, at the rate he’s gaining, a spot among the top two is within reach.”
Vote often through January 2
Voting runs through January 2
There’s a direct link to the English language US ballot for the 2007 NHL All-Star game, or you can use http://tinyurl.com/yzu27e. Remember to vote Rod Brind’Amour, Erik Cole, and Eric Staal for Eastern conference forwards, and Cam Ward for Eastern Conference goalie.