Is Scott Hartnell Converting the Heathens in Pittsburgh?

Is Scott Hartnell Converting the Heathens in Pittsburgh?

During his tenure in Philadelphia, Scott Hartnell has quickly become a fan favorite. Hard hits, unnerving play, a unique look, and a whole lot of goals are a great combination in this town.

I can see why somebody who has a "pest" or "agitator" label around the league would be unpopular and hated in rival cities, but to be honest, I've never really understood why Hartnell was thought of that way. He's a great teammate, an unselfish player, and he's never done anything dramatically dangerous to opposing players that I recall. I've always just thought of him as a tough power forward, and laughed at the lengths to which opposing fans go to hate on a guy who's nothing like Matthew Barnaby, Darius Kasparitis, or Sean Avery. I mean, nothing.

How could you hate this guy?

But the tide of Hartnell Hate hasn't waned in Pittsburgh. Or has it?

We all know that the readers and commenters of our old friends over at thepensblog like to get a little "creative" with their villainizing, spending countless hours photoshopping/MS Painting homoerotic images of the men they hate, and dedicating some hands-on arts & crafts time to making interesting signs and props for the games. More power to 'em, and I mean it. They love their team, and they've built a pretty strong community over there. Rivalries are great for hockey, and these guys eat it up.

That's not the only place where Hartnell Hate converges like three dirty rivers though. It can also be seen in and below the posts at Empty Nettters, which we believe is the Post-Gazette's haven for fans-wearing-jerseys fetishists. EN also features some nice video finds, which I am totally going to steal, as well as a great post from yesterday about a fan who put a lot of time and money into jobbing Scott Hartnell, going so far as to purchase and wear a custom-made Flyers jersey with the number 19 on it, and FARTSMELL across the nameplate. A grown, married man with a kid. 

So, wearing this jersey and an orange wig to the game with his daughter, Father of the Year here thought he'd probably get a rough time from the Flyers as he antagonized them before the game. The fan, Steve Mazefsky, says Hartnell wasn't too thrilled about it last season, but this year was a different story. From an email he sent EN:

This year, for whatever reason, this player decided that the jersey was
funny. The ushers would tell me how he laughed when he saw it, and he
would actually wave in the tunnel between periods of the home game, and
the banter back and forth was... well, I hate to
admit... FRIENDLY... Mike
Richards even threw my daughter a puck as they came off the ice,
despite the fact that she was with me before the last game. I decided
that the banter with the jersey alone had gotten boring, so I went out
to get an orange wig to match Hartnell's rather odd haircut/color and
made a sign to up the ante. I was greeted today with friendly banter,
laughter and again Mike Richards tossed a puck to my daughter as they
came off the ice. A few minutes later, one of the Flyers trainers told
me that Scott would love to autograph the jersey if I would like that.
I told him that this would be great, but I did not really believe it,
as players NEVER sign autographs there. Never.

With a couple minutes left in the game, they asked for my jersey to be
sent down into the locker room, and despite my cynical nature, I took
it off, and it disappeared into the tunnel. As the game ended, and he
went through the tunnel, Scott Hartnell handed me the stick he used in
the game, and a minute later the trainer brought out the jersey that he
signed as the jersey read, 'To my biggest fan, your
bud... Scott Fartsmell.'



Yes, he actually signed it, 'Fartsmell!'

I have to tell you that the fact that he took the ribbing in stride,
joked back, and then took the time to sign this jersey in the manner
that he did, left a very lasting impression. I will not say it too
loudly here, but WHAT A CLASS ACT AND GOOD SPORT! The Flyers, more than
other visiting team go out of their way to take care of their fans in
our arena, but to go out of their way to interact with me, given my
attire and loyalties was well above the call of duty to say the least.
All three trainers and equipment managers for that team were just as
fun to joke around with! Best wishes, and good luck Flyers, except when
you play us. And THANKS for a fun time
."

See that? He's not so bad. And why should he be? Harts is livin' the life, on and off the ice. We'll be in attendance tomorrow night for the real Hartnell wigs, as I'm sure many of you will be.

EN also has a funny fan-shot video of Hartnell getting on the team bus. When a Pens fan shouts jokingly/threateningly at him he stops dead, and so does the fan, who gets a little sheepish. Worth the trip over there, as are some of the blog's other posts pertaining to the game.

Thanks to Kira and Laura for sending this our way. It was also linked at PuckDaddy yesterday.

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).