Philadelphia Flyers: 5 Reasons Scott Hartnell Is an All-Star
I've had a change of heart.
After reexamining my opinion of the Philadelphia Flyers leading scorer following his five-goal weekend, I have come to terms with who the player Scott Hartnell is and who he is not. Despite previously stated biases against No. 19, I have come to the conclusion that he deserves recognition as an All-Star.
And as usual, I have five reasons to justify my claims. Read on to find out what changed my mind.
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Scott Hartnell's team-leading 25 goals should be enough to earn him All-Star consideration because leading one of the NHL's top five teams in the game's most important statistic, usually suffices as All-Star criteria.
But looking deeper inside Hartnell's numbers he proves himself even more worthy.
Hartnell's 25-goal total is the fourth highest in the league and sixth in the rankings. Hartnell has more goals than 18 of the 22 All-Star forwards. The Pittsburgh Penguins' James Neal (26) is the only player in the league with more goals than Scotty—not selected to the All-Star Game.
Hartnell's 13 power-play goals lead the NHL. His impressive plus-18 rating places him 13th overall in the league—and is the ninth highest total.
As a team, the Flyers currently hold the fourth position in the Eastern Conference Standings with 61 points—only three behind the Atlantic Division leading New York Rangers (64).
But when Scott Hartnell scores, the Flyers are dominating with a 14-3-3 record. Included in the losses are Sunday's shootout loss to the Boston Bruins and the October 27 disaster, which saw the Winnipeg Jets win a 9-8 debacle—both games were winnable if not for epic Ilya Bryzgalov meltdowns.
Hartnell is the go-to-guy in key situations on a very good Flyers team. He has the numbers to back that status up, hence the City of Brotherly Love's disbelief at his exclusion from the festivities in Ottawa.
Mic Him Up!
While Scott Hartnell may not bring much to the table in terms of the actual skills competition, he is quite a character and the NHL could use his entertainment value.
Besides planting a mic on him for the All-Star game itself, Hartnell could actually emcee the skills competition chirping rivals, telling stories and conducting interviews.
The NHL could have gold on its hands and not even know it. Hartnell could be the jolt the All-Star game has been looking for since Jeremy Roenick retired.
The All-Star Game Could Use Some Intensity
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Highly-skilled offensive players are fun to watch—no doubt.
Watching the Sedins, Claude Girouxs and stars of the like play, have come to be the attraction of these high-scoring exhibitions.
But with the emphasis being on the Harlem Globetrotter-esque offense, the All-Star game loses the one trait that sets hockey aside from all other sports—the intensity.
With a bruiser like Scott Hartnell in the lineup some of that intensity is bound to return and the fans may even get to see a body check or two, if Hartnell is added as an injury replacement to the All-Star roster.
Much like the center in the NBA or fullback in the NFL, power forward in the NHL is a dying position with the infusion of speed and skill brought about by the post-lockout rule changes.
But Scott Hartnell is a throwback, even on what is possibly the most skilled Flyers team ever—it is the grinder leading the way in scoring.
If Hartnell brought his power forward mentality to Ottawa, he could both impact the game and give fans more of a real game experience—rather than an exhibition.
Anchoring the "Giroux Line"
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While Claude Giroux may be in the MVP race, it is Scott Hartnell playing the drink-stirring role on the Flyers' top line.
Hartnell has played in all 47 games this season, even as his linemates miss time with serious injury. Giroux missed four games with a concussion in December, while Jaromir Jagr has now missed seven with various "lower-body" aches and pains.
Hartnell is the physical power forward whose mere presence creates time and space for Jagr and Giroux to make the type of skill plays they get paid to make. Hartnell's knack for getting to the right place at the right time is paying off, as both he and Giroux are on pace for career highs in points.
Remember it was James van Riemsdyk who started off on the top line with Giroux and Jagr—and the line struggled to find a rhythm.
Once Hartnell was inserted, the whole thing clicked and Philly's top trio is now among the best in hockey. And they deserve better representation at the All-Star Game.
Scott Hartnell Is a Deserving Veteran
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Scott Hartnell is a 29-year-old in his 11th NHL season.
In his fifth year as a Flyer, Hartnell has missed only three of a possible 375 regular season games.
Hartnell is on pace to break both his career highs in goals (30) and assists (30. He is also on pace for the fewest penalty minutes of his career in Philly.
With nearly 900-regular season and playoff games under his belt, including two Winter Classics and a Stanley Cup Final Series, it is hard to find a more deserving first time All-Star anywhere else in the league.
Hartnell has been the ultimate teammate throughout his career, and continues to improve his game and that of his teammates.
He is also a fan-favorite (sometimes it's Love-Hate, but the Love always comes first) and a proud member of the Philadelphia sports community. Because of this he has earned my support in his quest to be added to the All-Star roster.