For the Philadelphia Flyers, it has been an up-and-down season thanks to goaltending issues, injuries and the Winter Classic but the Flyers have been able to count on Scott Hartnell each and every night. The 29-year-old forward who the Flyers signed before the 2007-08 season has at times struggled to live up to his $4.2 million cap hit – but not this season.
With the campaign now halfway through, Hartnell is not only putting together his best season as a member of the orange and black but what could turn out to be the best season of his 11-year career. Since the Winter Classic is over, the league spotlight has shifted to the Jan. 29 All-Star Game in Ottawa and it’s no surprise that Flyers forward Claude Giroux and defenseman Kimmo Timonen were constantly in the discussion of players who were shoo-ins leading up to the player announcement for the event but what about Hartnell?
Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette has been more than impressed with Hartnell’s play this season and just a few days ago Laviolette was asked by CSNPhilly about the potential for Hartnell to make his first All-Star appearence, the coach made it clear how he felt.
“I’m not lobbying, but it would be criminal for Scott Hartnell not to be on there. In my opinion, he is the top power forward in the game right now. Based on numbers, based on the season, plus/minus, hits, physical play, goals and assists, you’d have to come up with somebody who’s had a better year than Scott,” he said.
Well someone better contact Ottawa’s law enforcement.
The NHL announced the participants of the event this afternoon and Hartnell’s name was nowhere to be found. It’s hard to believe that a guy who has 18 goals and 19 assists in 41 games wouldn’t earn recognition as one of the league’s elite players, despite the fact that he has brought his career back to life thanks to his linemates Jaromir Jagr and Giroux. He’s currently ranked 14th in the league in goals and 28th in points, which should have been good enough to earn a spot as one of the 36 veterans chosen between the two conferences.
Hartnell can still earn a trip to Ottawa if any players back out because of personal reason or injury but it just goes to show that there will always be at least one deserving player left off the list each season but did it really have to be Hartnell?
There are certain players that are good for the league, for instance Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin – who earned yet another trip to the All-Star Game. The only problem with giving Ovechkin the nod is that he has not played particularly well – especially by Ovechkin standards – this season. He isn’t even in the NHL’s top 30 in scoring, tallying just 33 points in in 41 games, which is three behind Hartnell but players of Ovechkin’s status draw TV ratings.
When it comes down to it the event is all about marketability and though Hartnell has become almost like a folk hero in the Philadelphia market this season because of all the social media buzz behind #HartnellDown, the season-long tally of how often No. 19 falls plummets to the ice.
Much like Ovechkin, the same set of circumstances could be said for Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. Though Kane’s 38 points are slightly more than Hartnell, it certainly didn’t hurt that Kane has finesse and speed, not to mention his status as a “star” of the league. At 23-years-old, Kane has already participated in two All-Star games.
Meanwhile it’s uncertain just how many more chances Hartnell has left.