"Vote for Rory" irks Gretzky

While many are jumping on the "Vote for Rory" bandwagon in an attempt to get Canucks blueliner Rory Fitzpatrick voted into the All-Star game, don't expect Wayne Gretzky to cast his ballot any time soon.

The Phoenix Coyotes coach and former NHL great said Thursday he thinks the NHL should intervene in the "Vote for Rory" phenomenon to make sure the players who most deserve to play in next month's All-Star Game in Dallas are included.

Fitzpatrick, a write-in candidate, is in second place among Western Conference defencemen in fan balloting thanks in gigantic part to a fan-started Internet site - - that is asking people to cast an All-Star vote for Fitzpatrick.

The NHL uses fan voting to determine the starting lineups for both all-star teams.

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

Fitzpatrick, a journeyman who has zero points in 19 games this season, is ahead of marquee defencemen such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Sergei Zubov in the voting. Should Fitzpatrick still be in the top two when the voting ends Jan. 2, he would be an All-Star starter.

"I'm not trying to be controversial," Gretzky said. "Maybe he deserves to be in the game. I can't stand here and tell you that he doesn't deserve to be in the game because I've never seen him play. But if he thinks he deserves to be in the All-Star Game, then good for him, he should go. If he doesn't believe he should be in the All-Star Game, he should stand up and say, 'You know what, there's other guys that deserve to be there.' That's kind of what my take on it is."
Who's really losing out?

Hockey's Stan Musial in this case.

DETROIT -- When it comes to All-Star games, well, nothing is ordinary.

Take the NHL, for example.

Who would be your starting defenseman: Rory Fitzpatrick or Nicklas Lidstrom?

Well, in most instances, it probably would be Lidstrom, who is a four-time Norris Trophy winner.

Think again -- at this point.

Fitzpatrick, a nine-year veteran with nine career goals, is ahead of Lidstrom, thanks to a write-in campaign started near Fitzpatrick's hometown of Rochester, N.Y.

Vancouver fans have jumped aboard, too, and suddenly, Fitzpatrick has 428,832 votes, trailing Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer (447,502).

Lidstrom is third (427,364).

Voting ends Jan. 2.

"I saw the story a couple of weeks ago; it's kind of a funny thing they're doing," said Lidstrom, who's not bothered by the write-in campaign.

"It's kind of funny. It's not a big deal."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock disagrees somewhat.

"It's a reward for the best players in our league, and the right people should go," Babcock said.

"Being named to the All-Star Game is a real honor."
Shades of 1957