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 NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92 on Sunday night.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch. It was Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.

Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.

Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state (see full recap).

Rose, Anthony help Knicks hold off Kings
NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points and the New York Knicks held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 on Sunday night for their eighth win in 11 games.

The Knicks took a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 18 consecutive points in the third quarter but outplayed the Kings down the stretch to win their third straight overall and improve to 9-3 at home.

Brandon Jennings added 19 points for New York and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but shot just 9 for 30 and looked fatigued while struggling late while playing the entire second half (see full recap).

Ibaka's big night leads Magic past Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 98-92 on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Magic.

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit's first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

On Jackson's first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play -- he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Byron scored the clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a winless swing through California with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for just the second time in seven road games. Montreal had only one win in its previous 11 games in California before scoring three times in the four-round shootout.

Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw also scored and Carey Price made 27 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist apiece for the Kings, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots (see full recap).

DeKeyser gives Red Wings OT win over Isles
NEW YORK -- Danny DeKeyser scored 1:02 into overtime to give Detroit a victory over New York.

Mike Green scored twice and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist for Detroit, which improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games. Peter Mrazek stopped 32 shots to improve to 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey scored for New York, which had won a season-high three straight. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

Detroit's Frans Nielsen had an assist while facing his former team for the first time since leaving the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Red Wings last summer. The 32-year-old Danish center was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2002 draft and had 119 goals and 230 assists over 10 seasons in New York (see full recap).

Late goal lifts Jets over Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Andrew Copp scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:45 left, Bryan Little got his third goal in three games and Winnipeg edged Chicago.

Copp beat Scott Darling on the stick side with a shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the left post.

Chicago's Artemi Panarin scored with 6:54 remaining to tie it at 1, moments after Copp hit the post, to spoil Connor Hellebuyck's bid for a second shutout against Chicago in less than a month. Panarin completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kane, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side.

Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves and outdueled Darling, who started his second straight game for the Blackhawks in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. Darling made 30 saves, including three on breakaways.

Little's power-play goal with 43.4 seconds left in the second period was his fourth point in four games since missing 23 with a lower-body injury (see full recap)