Rory, Rory, quite … um … controry


Well, the whole Rory Fitzpatrick thing just keeps growing. And why be surprised? I’ve said it before: Democracy doesn’t work, especially in the same country that rated some idiot DJ at Winnipeg’s Power 97 radio station above Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Laura Secord on a list of its greatest citizens. At the very least, I’d like for perennial all-star netminder Patrick Roy1 to come out in favor of the Rory campaign so I can start making immature “Rory Fitzpatrick, Patrick fits Rory” jokes,2 but perhaps it’s enough that even non-hockey fans such as Steve Ely are taking an interest,3 and this is a guy who thinks of hockey as just soccer plus sticks and ice skating. I personally recoil in horror at this comparison, of course. The NHL’s image problem must be worse than I’d thought for him to think of the sport that way. I guess the league’s going to have to crack down on diving and institute even more fighting. I know that would make Don Cherry happy.

Old Don came out against the pro-Rory campaign last week, which helps to further divide the fans. He’s one of the most popular figures in the country, even though many dismiss him as an reactionary, rambling Neanderthal blowhard, which is of course exactly why the rest of the audience likes him. It’s weird and hard to accept, but sometimes the old coot just happens to be right. (I’ve been planning to write a post for some time about how his obviously wrong anti-visor views may just make perfect sense, viewed in the light of a Malcolm Gladwell article on risk homeostasis that I read a while back, even though there’s no way Don could even pronounce the word “homeostasis” without offending about 10 percent of the audience.4,5) I happen to think he’s right about the Rory thing. He pointed out that they’re not laughing with him, but at him. And now it’s apparent that Rory feels the same way. He’s taken the campaign in good humour, but he’s now been quoted as being not only happy with a recent slip from second to third place in the voting, but in fact desirous of sliding right out of the top six so he doesn’t have to make the decision of whether or not to play in a game in which he clearly doesn’t belong. So Rory doesn’t need our help. Rory doesn’t even want it. Don’t vote for Rory.

This has probably already been thrown out there somewhere on the Hockey’s Future message boards, where there are at least a dozen threads each comprising about 50 pages of posts on the Fitzpatrick fiasco, but I got to thinking this morning about how funny it would be if Rory had been demoted to the minor leagues for his ineffective play by the time of the All-Star game. Would he be eligible for a call-up just for that game? Or would the re-entry waiver rules that currently keep many veterans trapped in the minor leagues prohibit him from being called up for any NHL game, not just Vancouver Canucks games? It’s probably a moot point. If he were going to be demoted, it probably would have happened by now. The Canucks shouldn’t have any particular fear of doing so, since he’d probably pass though waivers just fine; surely, no other team has any reason to want a guy with his subpar numbers. But considering the media coverage the whole Vote for Rory flap has gotten, it’d probably make the league look like even more of a joke if one of its so-called all-stars were banished to the AHL by the time of the all-star game. I’m sure Winnipeg hockey fans would love to have an all-star NHL defenceman on the blueline of the Manitoba Moose, but I’m afraid the parent club is stuck with him for now.

Maybe the best situation for both Rory and the league would be for him to be sidelined by injury by the all-star game. That way, he doesn’t have to make a decision on whether to play. He doesn’t have to take a spot away from a more deserving candidate, and he doesn’t have to play a part in the whole debacle. I’m not suggesting anything sinister, such as the league sending some goon out to injure him. The poor guy would just be a magnet for hatred from the pro-Rory contingent after that.6 I’m just saying that Rory might want to just get a skate caught in a rut and go down with a lower-body injury (to use the vague term favoured by players and coaches) in time to conveniently miss the all-star game, kind of like a soldier “accidentally” shooting himself in the foot to escape front-line duty.

He could even do fans who live north of the sun belt a favour by making sure the injury happens in Phoenix. That way, the focus shifts to the question of why hockey is even being played in the desert anyway, where they clearly can’t even maintain proper ice conditions and prevent injuries to all-star players such as Rory Fitzpatrick. With luck, the enraged and obviously sizable pro-Rory forces might turn their mighty resources toward forcing the NHL’s commissioner to return the Phoenix Coyotes franchise to its original and rightful location so that such tragic accidents are less likely to happen to their hero again. That’s my dream, anyway: to see Rory Fitzpatrick playing in Winnipeg, where he belongs, one way or another, and to see all blame fall on Gary Bettman, where it belongs, one way or another.

1. He’s Greatest Canadian #67, by the way.
2. The setup, of course, is “Did you hear about the two gay Irish hockey players?” Your audience may then warn you that if Owen Nolan and Theo Fleury hear you talking about them that way, there’s going to be trouble, since each has tenuous connections to Ireland at most.
3. It’s probably disingenuous to throw up a link to Ely as though he’s made some comment on the Rory situation on his blog, which he hasn’t so far. But his blog is worth a read anyway, and most of the post is shamelessly cribbed from our e-mail correspondence, so Ely is due a well-deserved shout-out.
4. Let’s just get this out of the way and make the aforementioned post unnecessary. He’s often woefully inadequate at articulating his arguments, but essentially, Don’s point is that the more players wear visors, the more they lose respect for the consequences of illegal stickwork, and the more high-sticking infractions occur. And even with visors, injuries occur, because that stick can just go right up underneath. Similarly, the Gladwell article cites an interesting study showing that anti-lock braking doesn’t reduce the risk of accidents because drivers simply become more reckless. So, maybe Don’s actually right about visors simply promoting carelessness. And if there’s no negligible protective benefit to wearing a visor, why bother, since there’s a definite drawback in that it obscures visibility? (Come to think of it, do we really need helmets either?) Of course, theories and anecdotal evidence alone don’t justify dismissing visors, and at least one CBC study appears to refute Don’s claims. But interestingly, it does confirm his seemingly inflammatory comment that “most of the guys that wear them are Europeans and French guys.” that prompted investigation by the federal government and led to Coach’s Corner being broadcasted on a seven-second delay. Like I say, sometimes the old coot just happens to be right.
5. Quite rightly not trusting me not to accidentally delete any comment he might leave, Jay Pinkerton instead e-mails the following note about the Gladwell essay:

I thought it was kind of funny to read such a thoughtful, complexly layered article about a phenomenon that could, if you wanted to over-simplify, be summed up as “Shit Happens.”

Also, shame for not mentioning that Professor Wilde, the originator of the risk homeostasis theory that Gladwell namedrops, is a professor emeritus of psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston. He’s blood, man!

I’d say the risk homeostasis theory is better simplified as “Shit still happens.” But Jay’s quite right that I certainly ought to have given a shout-out to our alma mater. Cha gheill!
6. On the other hand, you could use a goon that people already hate, particularly Canucks fans. What’s Todd Bertuzzi up to these days?

6 Responses to “Rory, Rory, quite … um … controry”

  1. What kind of tag? Where?

  2. Yeah, that didn’t work at all. Fucking “preview” button.

    A few <a name=””> and <a href=””> tags would have been nice. I’m just saying.

  3. I still don’t know where you’d like said tags to go, though. Just anywhere?

  4. 5 Gloria

    That sounds kinda hot.

  1. 1 Risk homeostasis and hockey visors « Man vs. Clown!

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