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A nod to Rory

Luongo credits Fitzpatrick for All-Star start

Posted: Wednesday January 10, 2007 5:56PM; Updated: Wednesday January 10, 2007 5:56PM
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Roberto Luongo has been stellar this season, but catching Rory Fitzpatrick's reflected glory didn't hurt.
Roberto Luongo has been stellar this season, but catching Rory Fitzpatrick's reflected glory didn't hurt.
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

TORONTO, (Reuters) -- Vancouver Canucks journeyman defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick is not going to the NHL All-Star game but he may have helped team mate Roberto Luongo earn the starting assignment for the Western Conference in Dallas.

With 24 wins already this season, few would argue that Luongo deserved his place in the Jan. 24 showcase but the Canucks netminder believes he benefited from a rousing grassroots internet campaign to get the unheralded Fitzpatrick voted into the all-star contest.

"Definitely, that's given I think, anybody that's a Canucks fan and voted for Rory probably threw in a vote for me at the same time," Luongo said during a teleconference on Wednesday. "I definitely think it had a big influence."

Getting Fitzpatrick into the All-Star game had mushroomed into a North American-wide obsession when a fan set up the voteforrory.com Web site.

Rory-mania swept across Canada and the United States but the drive fell short when Fitzpatrick, who has only one assist in 28 games, finished third in balloting behind Anaheim Ducks' Scott Niedermayer and Detroit Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom by 22,892 votes.

Niedermayer was top among defensemen with 591,657 votes, followed by Lidstrom with 573,069 and Fitzpatrick on 550,177, a record for a write-in candidate.

Luongo collected 484,861 votes to easily outdistance Calgary Flames' Miikka Kiprusoff (403,313) for starting goaltender honors.

A workhorse, Luongo has shouldered the load in the Vancouver bet appearing in 41 games.

His stellar work has helped take the offensively challenged Canucks to the top of Northwest Division standings and sparked talk as a Hart Trophy candidate as the NHL's top player.

But after breaking into the league in 1999 with New York Islanders followed by five trying seasons with the Florida Panthers, Luongo is not so much looking forward to his second All-Star game as he is to making the NHL playoffs for the first time in his career.

"That's all that matters, I really don't care about numbers," said Luongo, who came to the Canucks before the start of the season as part of the trade that sent controversial power forward Todd Bertuzzi to the Panthers.

"There are two things I look at and that's wins and where we are in the standings.

"No matter how we get it done, as long as we get the two points at the end of the night, I'll be happy. I just want see my team in the top eight and that's the bottom line this year, nothing else matters," he said.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.