Latvian center Zemgus Girgensons is well on his way to starting in the All-Star Game thanks to a lot of home cooking. In his home country, Girgensons has had roughly one in every three people vote for him as he’s out to a monster lead in All-Star voting.
You’ve certainly heard by now that the leading vote getter for the All-Star Game isn’t Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, or P.K. Subban. No, none of those stars have the top spot. Rather, the number one slot goes to Buffalo Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons.
Girgensons is blowing away the competition. Through three weeks, the Latvian star has received more than 800,000 votes in favor of placing him in the starting lineup of the All-Star Game in Columbus this season. That’s more than double the total of Patrick Kane, who as of Tuesday sat in second place with nearly 376,000 votes.
While it seems crazy to imagine Girgensons, who is on one of the worst teams in the league and is having a simply average season, in the starting lineup for the game, it’s a bit more wild when you consider this: not only does Girgensons have more than double the votes of the next highest total, he’s gotten 82 percent of those votes from his native Latvia.
That’s right. Latvia, with a population of approximately 2,000,000, has voted for their favorite Sabre more than 600,000 times. In fact, the total is closer to 660,000, which is equivalent to roughly one third of the country’s population placing votes for their homeland hero.
If you’re looking for a better visualization of Girgensons total, let’s use Ovechkin as an example. The population of Russia is about 143 million. If Ovechkin’s home country voted for him with the same fervor that Girgensons is receiving from Latvia, Ovechkin would already have 47 million votes. For Ovechkin to leap Girgensons he would need only 0.6 percent of the country to vote for him. And Kane would need 0.3 percent of the US population to vote for him to leap the Buffalo pivot.
Even during previous attempts at skewing the vote, like 2006-07’s infamous “Vote For Rory (Fitzpatrick)” campaign, the league hasn’t seen an outpouring of support like this for a player in the All-Star Game. In all actuality, the support for the 20-year-old can’t be compared to anything, because there’s never been anything quite like this.
And maybe all the support is helping. After all, Girgensons has already tied his rookie goal scoring output and is only eight points from a new career high. If he sets new personal bests, all that will be left is to represent Latvia, and the Sabres, at January’s All-Star Game.