Unlikely All-Star wouldn't play much if he makes it
Posted: Monday January 8, 2007 5:57PM; Updated: Monday January 8, 2007 5:57PM
Rory-mania: Today the All-Star Game, tomorrow the Norris Trophy.
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
GLENDALE, Arizona, (Reuters) -- If a fan campaign to vote Vancouver Canucks' Rory Fitzpatrick into the NHL All-Star game is successful, Western conference coach Randy Carlyle suggested on Monday that the defenseman would get only limited ice time.
With the NHL allowing fans to select the starting lineups for both the Western and Eastern Conference teams, the unheralded Fitzpatrick has been the focus of an internet campaign to vote him into the All-Star contest later this month.
A hard-working journeyman with nine-years NHL experience and who has just one assist in 28 games this season, Fitzpatrick finds himself on the brink of joining the league's elite in Dallas on January 24.
The NHL will announce the starting lineups for both teams on Tuesday.
Voting was completed on Jan. 2 and the last numbers released by the NHL on Dec. 27 had Anaheim Ducks Norris trophy winner Scott Niedermayer leading the ballot with 540,380 votes.
Not everyone is pleased with the idea of seeing the journeyman on the ice with the NHL's top players.
Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky is among those who believe Fitzpatrick's participation would make a mockery of the All-Star game, suggesting that the NHL should intervene.
Carlyle, the Ducks coach who will be behind the bench for the Western Conference, said he was a hockey traditionalist but added he would welcome Fitzpatrick as part of the team even in a diminished role.
"I'm a traditionalist, I have a plan I don't think I'd like to commit to...but if Rory Fitzpatrick would be voted in we would have to make a decision as a coaching staff on how much he would play," said Carlyle during a teleconference on Monday.
"Bottom line is ...it is dependent on us how much he does play.
'Rory-mania' began in early November when a Fitzpatrick fan set up a Web site called voteforrory.com.
Hockey fans across Canada and United States embraced the cause, turning Fitzpatrick, who has just nine goals and 28 points in 238 career games, into the NHL's most celebrated underdog.
However, with the controversy swirling around his possible selection, Fitzpatrick has yet to confirm that he will accept the honor if he does finish in the top two.
"Obviously it's a tough situation for Rory to be in," said Eastern Conference coach Lindy Ruff. "Overall I think he's handled the situation very well.The All Star team is based usually on the players who have performed the best the first half of the year. Rory is a great guy, a great competitor, but the All-Star voting wasn't meant to go that way and I guess if he (Carlyle) was in as a coach he would limit his ice time in favour of the guys it was meant to be for."