Share this article

print logo

Fitzpatrick says All-Star saga got personal

Rory Fitzpatrick never convened a news conference at his locker. He never solicited support for an oddball cause.

He certainly never asked to be the butt of someone's international joke.
The Vancouver Canucks defenseman found himself in the middle of a controversial storyline that drew the ire of many. An Internet campaign to vote Fitzpatrick into the All-Star game nearly worked, and when it looked like he might be elected a Western Conference starter, some loud hockey voices thundered.

"They weren't informed on it," the ex-Sabre said Friday before facing his old team in HSBC Arena. "They didn't know the whole story, I guess. If they did, then I don't think they could have delivered criticism at me.

"You can say I don't deserve to be in the All-Star game. That's fine. I don't even take that as an insult. It's just a fact. But when you come out and make it personal, that can hurt."

Fitzpatrick was ragged on in Buffalo because he couldn't find a loose puck between his feet on a play that helped the Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Sabres in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals. The Irondequoit native signed with the Canucks over the summer.

The crusade to get Fitzpatrick written into the All-Star game started as a lark but exploded once computer-savvy fans realized they were having an impact on the balloting. The push to get him in became a feel-good story across North America -- even though Fitzpatrick had a broken ankle.

Don Cherry and Wayne Gretzky weren't amused.

"The big thing, Rory, if you're watching, they're not laughing with you, they're laughing at you," Cherry said on a "Hockey Night in Canada" telecast.

Said Gretzky: "I think from his point of view, it's great. From what the All-Star Game is about, it's 100 percent wrong."

Fitzpatrick said he likely would have turned down a spot on the roster had he garnered enough votes because he "didn't want to be a sideshow." He finished third behind Scott Niedermayer and Nicklas Lidstrom.

"I think I probably would have not gone," Fitzpatrick said. "It started to get quite negative for some people in Canada."


Sabres center Paul Gaustad returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury, but didn't supplant Daniel Paille on his former line with center Chris Drury and right winger Ales Kotalik because coach Lindy Ruff liked the chemistry of his lines in Wednesday's 6-3 win over Boston.

Gaustad centered the fourth line between Adam Mair and Drew Stafford.

Derek Roy missed Friday morning's skate because of an illness but played, staying on a line with Jiri Novotny and Maxim Afinogenov.


The NHL has asked Sabres goalie Ryan Miller to be among a select group of All-Stars to welcome U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan on Tuesday at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Miller also will unveil two goalie masks honoring U.S. and Canadian troops. The masks will be auctioned to support military charities.


There are no comments - be the first to comment