The NHL All Star Game has undergone its latest evolution in the 2015-16 season, becoming a three-on-three divisional team tournament. Playing off the popularity of the new overtime format, it's just the latest gimmick that a gimmicky event has embraced over the years.
Since 1986 the league has allowed fans to vote on starters for the game, and this season the vote is for the captain of each 12-player team. Balloting is open now, giving fans the latest opportunity to make what has seemingly become an annual run at getting a 'surprising/amusing' player in the game. From the 2007 'Vote For Rory' campaign that tried to get then-Vancouver Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick selected (he finished third), to Zemgus Girgensons representing the pride of Latvia last season as the only non-Chicago Blackhawk selected by fan voting, fan bases are already beginning to mobilize for this season:
- Fellow SBN affiliate and Toronto Maple Leafs luminaries Pension Plan Puppets wondering who the fun cause célèbre will be this year, while to the readers it seems obvious that it's noted zubat Uncle Leo Komarov
- Meanwhile SBN Boston Bruins affiliate Stanley Cup of Chowder are keeping in their tradition of Mike Milbury selecting Chris Nilan in 1991 and stumping for Brad Marchand
- Puck Daddy purveyor Greg Wyshynski and Sportsnet+NHL Ties favorite Jeff Marek are putting the heft of their popular 'Marek vs Wyshynski' podcast behind the murdersaurus John Scott.
While these are just a handful of what are likely to be many of such attempted rallying points, who are the most Rory-worthy players for each team in the Pacific Division?
Anaheim Ducks: Clayton Stoner
While Korbinian Holzer may be more on the nose as a Rory comparable, Stoner is cut from the same 'hardworking third pair defenseman' cloth. Considering what he's been able to do in a season-plus with Sami Vatanen, it'd be fun to see if that same magic could be captured with someone like Drew Doughty/Oliver Ekman-Larsson, though at three-on-three his zone clears to highly skilled forwards would create some fun puck chases too.
With a 51.53% shot attempt differential at even strength, as well as being the third-best defenseman on the team in both scoring chance and high danger chance differential percentage there's more meat on the analytic skeleton to make the case for him than one would expect from a player in his role. Not to mention, he's been a solid media presence for the team, participating in interviews on broadcasts where things have gone sideways for Anaheim.
Folks bag on him in the commentary section of this site (because yeah, contract size), but he's clearly been better this season. A Clayton Stoner All Star jersey would be a worthy addition to every Ducks fan's wardrobe.
Arizona Coyotes: John Scott
Sure, he had that gross butt-end to Tim Jackman while he was with San Jose, but does this really need an explanation? Just leaving this here-
Calgary Flames: Jonas Hiller
WE WANT HILLER pic.twitter.com/kcsyerw416— Joel MartindelCampo (@padgerfan) May 4, 2015
Edmonton Oilers: Luke Gazdic
Because as funny as 'Stoner' would look on the back of an All Star jersey, 'Gazdic' is an awfully close second.
Los Angeles Kings: Jamie McBain
A good American boy from Edina, Minnesota. Wouldn't it be nice to get in on the Rainier Wolfcastle memes that pop up all over Kings Twitter for once?
San Jose Sharks: Mike Brown
The only thing better than a dancing bear that fans of a rival actually don't like having on their team is a dancing bear that had a pair of assists while with the Ducks when they knocked said rival out of the playoffs after a Presidents Trophy-winning season.
Vancouver Canucks: Luca Sbisa