Almost a decade after the campaign to get Rory Fitzpatrick to start the All-Star Game, a new hope has arrived. Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres, he of 11 points, currently sits fourth in voting for forwards.
You may recall, during the 2006-07 season, the NHL introduced a system by which fans could vote for several All-Star Game starters. With the handy work of a few enterprising individuals, “Vote For Rory” began – a campaign to get journeyman defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick to start in the best-on-best scrimmage.
The campaign went strong for weeks on end, and leading up to the game, it seemed like there was a legitimate shot that Fitzpatrick would get to start the game. While he never vocally supported the effort, his teammates did, donning t-shirts that said Vote For Rory and saying they were going to make sure they placed their own votes.
When all was said and done, Fitzpatrick finished third in voting for defenseman, behind Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer and Nicklas Lidstrom. Some cried foul, but there really wasn’t much fuss made. The effort was what mattered, as Fitzpatrick became a star for a fleeting moment. The entire campaign became, more than anything, a fun jab at the ridiculousness that comes along with a fan vote for the All-Star Game.
Now, eight seasons later, it seems some of those same minds may be at it again.
The Sabres’ Girgensons is currently fourth behind the aforementioned trio of Kane, Toews, and Crosby. Were he having a breakout year, it may not be so shocking to see the center sitting so high in the fan voting. However, that’s simply not the case. With six goals and five assists in 22 games, he’s on pace to nearly double the totals of his rookie season, but he’s far from All-Star material.
But it’s not just his point totals that make his position odd. Were he on the first place team, it wouldn’t be as confounding. But he’s part of one of the worst team’s the NHL has seen in decades. The thing is, though, he may have an entire nation on his side.
Girgensons is the only current Latvian NHLer. With 33 points in 92 games, he’s also the fourth highest scoring Latvian to ever make it in North America’s best league. With that, he’s got some serious voting going his way.
At this point yesterday, Girgensons was actually sitting in fifth place amongst forwards, at the time also trailing Montreal Canadiens star Max Pacioretty. That not even Pacioretty, who has fans in Montreal that have been quite active in these votes in seasons prior, has been able to keep pace with Girgensons is quite something.
If Girgensons makes the game, he and his fans will have achieved a feat that has been nearly a decade in the making.
Vote for Rory? That’s old hat. Vote for Zemgus.