Fan balloting for the starting lineup at the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa starts today, and already there is a nascent campaign to get Daniel Alfredsson on the squad.
The Red Scarf Union, a sort of fan collective that organizes various Senators-related events and get-togethers in the city, launched votealfie.com over the weekend to make sure the captain is recognized in what could be his final season.
Alfredsson, one of five Senators included among the 127 players on the ballot, said earlier this week he would love to participate in the hometown game.
Steve Vandenhanenberg, Steve Ryan and Red Scarf Union founder Michael Bradley mean to make it happen.
While Vandenhanenberg said Sunday he believed the league would do the right thing and include Alfredsson in the festivities regardless of the voting results, his group also didn’t want to take that chance.
“We hope Sens fans in Ottawa and around the world take a few seconds out and do it – it doesn’t cost anything other than a couple minutes of your life,” he said, noting Alfredsson has given plenty of time to community programs, including the high-profile You Know Who I Am campaign for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.
“It’s an opportunity to let the league know, players across league know, and Daniel himself know (how the city feels), and what better stage than the All-Star Game?” Vandenhanenberg, 29, said.
The Red Scarf Union is the same group behind 2010′s Dany Heatley Hate Fest, a day-long event that ended with group of fans tossing their old No. 15 jerseys on the ice when the disgruntled sniper returned to Scotiabank Place for the first time.
Vandenhanenberg said the they took a lot of heat for using the word “hate” at the time, so this was a way of contributing something positive.
Fans have taken advantage of this hockey democracy before, and not always to select the best players.
When the All-Star Game was held in Montreal in 2009, Habs fans hit the Web in droves to elect four of starters from the hometown team. Arguments could be made that Carey Price and Andrei Markov deserved to be there that season, but the inclusion of Alex Kovalev and Mike Komisarek was a bit of a joke..
Oddly enough, Kovalev, who had a paltry five goals and 27 points heading into the game, wound up as the MVP.
Then, there is the downright embarrassing 2007 “Vote for Rory” campaign. One fan decided he would try and get journeyman defence man Rory Fitzpatrick voted into that season’s starting lineup in Dallas – and nearly succeeded.
Fitzpatrick wound up finishing third in defence man voting, but discrepancies in the final numbers led many to believe the NHL surreptitiously intervened to make sure he didn’t make the cut.
Few could argue that Alfredsson doesn’t deserve to be there, given his illustrious career in Ottawa.
Now it’s up to the fans to make it happen.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Meanwhile, the Senators are already back on the road after back-to-back games in Buffalo and Toronto over the weekend. Players had just enough to time spend a few hours with their families and grab some clean clothes before heading to Calgary for Tuesday’s contest against the Flames.
It’s a long flight to begin with, and it would have been longer had the Senators not managed to snap their five game losing skid with a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Jason Spezza was certainly pleased to be heading out again on a positive note.
“It’s a much more pleasant atmosphere to be around when you’re winning hockey games, you guys know that, we know that, and we’re happy that we could get a win, end the losing, and go out west now with a positive mindset.
“We hope to carry (the momentum) over.
“We’re still learning to win games and we’re still learning to hold leads and games like (Toronto) are key for our development as a team.”