The Rory Details
The movement to get Rory Fitzpatrick into the NHL All-Star
Game could change fan balloting forever, according to TFP's
(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Though their names weren't on either
ballot for the two major political parties in the 2004
U.S. Presidential election, Joseph W. Organist, Leon
Motor and Freddy Irwin 'Messiah' Sitnick all received
votes. They were identified as independents, and were
write-in candidates for the highest office in the land.
Though his name wasn't listed on either ballot for the
two major conferences in the 2006-07 NHL All-Star Game,
Rory Fitzpatrick has received votes. He's identified as
a defenseman, and he's a write-in candidate for an
exhibition game that most nominated players would gladly
swap for a relaxing four-day weekend on a beach.
amazingly, as of Nov. 29, he has more all-star votes
(31,310) than Mathieu Schneider (30,628), who's on the
ballot for the Detroit Red Wings.
By now you might have heard about Steve Schmid, the
22-year-old Sabres fan from Auburn, NY who's behind the "Vote
For Rory" campaign, whose epicenter is the no-frills website
www.voteforrory.com. It's become one of the most baffling and
effective revolutionary fan movements in hockey history.
If you're like me, you might have already Googled "Rory
Fitzpatrick" just to remember who, exactly, this 10-year
veteran defenseman is and where, exactly, he is these days
Vancouver, his fifth NHL team. That Mr. Fitzpatrick is about
as well-known to most hockey fans as a playoff victory is to
Roberto Luongo begs the obvious question:
Why Rory, Mr. Schmid?
just so much of a nobody," he explained. "If you
picked someone like Wade Belak, you'd get a lot of
opposition to it. I know as a Sabres fan that if
someone said, 'Hey, vote Wade Belak into the All-Star
Game,' Id tell them, 'Go to hell.' You can't pick a
guy like Belak or [Donald] Brashear because people
hate them. Who can hate a guy like Rory Fitzpatrick,
other than a couple of disgruntled Sabres fans?"
If Fitzy's candidacy seems like a bit of a joke like
that smirky kid in the back of the classroom who
nominates Eric Cartman for student council president
that's actually how it started.
Schmid said he posts in the forum on SomethingAwful.com, an
online humor site, where the bashing of specific players is a
sport in itself. One day, Schmid saw a thread titled "We Still
Hate You Rory Fitzpatrick"; as a goof, he decided to float a
trial balloon regarding Rory's candidacy for the 2006-07 NHL
All-Star Game in Dallas. Schmid posted the idea on
HFBoards.com, the densely populated Hockey's Future message
It went up on a Sunday afternoon; six hours later, it had
The momentum was stunning, as fans passionately latched onto
this absurd notion and started boasting about having cast tens
and hundreds of votes for Fitzpatrick on NHL.com. They cited
different reasons for their support: parody, politics and, in
some cases, praise. For every one fan who was using this
campaign as an indictment of the NHL's "flawed" fan balloting
process, there were three who supported Fitzpatrick as an
example of the kind of blue-collar grunt that gets left out of
the spotlight all too often.
"Some people probably want to see him in a 3-on-1 against
Ovechkin, Crosby and Jagr," said Schmid. "Whatever reason they
use to vote is fine with me. We're all part of the same team."
In the coming weeks, there were "Vote for Rory" avatars,
banners and YouTube videos. Schmid was interviewed on the FAN
590 in Toronto about the effort. Fans were proclaiming there
was an NHL cover-up because no Western Conference write-in
votes had been reported in the balloting updates, and began
pestering the league office to reveal "the truth." Then, late
last month, the numbers finally came in Rory Fitzpatrick was
on the big board.
on the voting totals his supporters had reported, Schmid
expected the number to be closer to 100,000 than the 31,000
Fitzpatrick had received. Fans had boasted about voting well
over 100 times a day, but this is the Internet we're talking
about here; you know, the one where the girl on the dating
site says she looks like Lindsay Lohan, and when you actually
meet her it's more like Ted Lindsay.
The movement got another boost on Dec. 1 when the Vancouver
Province finally caught up with Fitzpatrick limited to 16
games this season after breaking his ankle and he gave the
campaign an endorsement.
"People put a lot of time into it. You have to give credit to
the people who put it all together. They did a great job. It's
pretty funny," Fitzpatrick told the paper. "If I'm going to
get in, I'm going to need a lot of help, that's for sure."
No kidding: as of Nov. 29, Fitzpatrick significantly trailed
second-leading Western Conference defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
of Detroit, who had 214,789 votes thus far.
So where is the NHL in all of this? The NHL.com story that
accompanied the Western Conference voting totals made no
mention of Rory Fitzpatrick's write-in votes or the campaign
I repeat for the sake of clarity and absurdity: The NHL did
not find the fact that a fan-led write-in campaign for Rory
Fitzpatrick had garnered more votes than Mathieu Schneider to
But we all know the men who run this league have no sense of
humor, and absolutely no idea what it is their fans want.
That's been established for decades. Still, it's frustrating
to see the NHL thus far failing to embrace a movement that
has morphed from being an undeniable goof into something much
Think of "Vote For Rory" as a pucks-and-sticks version of
"Snakes on a Plane." It started as a joke title on a bad
horror movie. Then the Internet latched onto it, and Sam
Jackson refused to do the movie unless its ridiculous title
was kept intact. Soon, a bad horror film became a camp fright
romp, with fans and bloggers literally adding scenes and
dialogue through their suggestions. Sure, it ran out of steam
in the end, but the fans probably saved it from direct-to-DVD
hell. (And just like a hockey game, it was a $%#@ blast to
watch when you're loaded.)
Clearly, the fans are speaking, and a lot of them are saying
they want to see a player like Rory Fitzpatrick in the
all-star game. And why not? The commissioner can honor
has-beens with "heroes of the game" selections, so why not
have a way to honor the grunts as well? I'd rather watch
someone like Dougie Brown skate in the midseason classic for
the first time than a Mike Gartner-type for the eighth time,
So here's my proposal: Every year the NHL opens up a slot in
the East and a slot in the West for an Internet-only fan vote.
Every non-goalie in the league NOT on the all-star ballot will
be eligible. Call it the "unsung player," the "lunch pail
star," the "working class hero" slot; hell, call it "The
Sutter Selection" in honor of an entire family that epitomized
the kind of player we're talking about here.
Imagine the "Vote for Rory" campaign, only spread throughout
30 teams. "Vote for Brylin!" "Vote for Draper!" "Vote for
Higgins!" Imagine the league actually endorsing something the
fans are already excited about, instead of trying to control
the artificial message with a hired-gun PR firm as usual.
"I would love that idea, and I think the fans would embrace
it," said Schmid. "Let the coaches and general managers figure
out the top three lines and the top two 'D' pairs; let the
fans figure out the fourth line and the third pair."
I wouldn't go that far... but hey, we're still on the same
"Seriously, if he was voted to the game, I would buy his
jersey. Id even think about going on eBay and getting tickets
just to see him," said Schmid.
Hear those cash registers ringing, NHL? Hear those winds of
Vote early, people.
Wyshynski, also the Sports Editor of The Connect Newspaper, is
a columnist for TheFourthPeriod.com, and the Senior Editor and Washington
Correspondent for The Fourth Period Magazine.
His book, "Glow Pucks and 10-Cent Beer: The 101 Worst Ideas in Sports
is now on sale.