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.