Belatedly, Hartnell gets nod as an All-Star

Posted: January 25, 2012

SUNRISE, Fla. - Scott Hartnell looked down at his iPhone and got nervous.

"Please call me. - Brendan Shanahan," the text message read.

"I was trying to think back to the last game, to see if I did anything stupid," Hartnell said. "Maybe it's a guilty conscience."

Instead, Shanahan - the NHL's director of player safety and discipline chief - delivered a message to Hartnell that should have been sent nearly 2 weeks earlier, extending him an invitation to this weekend's All-Star Game in Ottawa.

But Hartnell, always the practical joker, couldn't pass up an easy opportunity to make his father Bill, who is on the team's fathers trip in Florida, a little nervous.

So, he walked back over to his father, teammates Kimmo Timonen, Claude Giroux and Jody Shelley and told them he had a disciplinary hearing scheduled.

"They all said, 'What?! What did you do?' " Hartnell said. "But I couldn't keep the smile off my face. It didn't work too well."

For Hartnell, the invitation to replace injured Chicago captain Jonathan Toews was a long time coming. Only Penguins forward James Neal had more points than Hartnell, but no ticket to Canada's frigid capital city.

Hartnell, 29, was passed over on the initial list of 36 players by the NHL's hockey operations department. And he wasn't the first injury replacement player on Monday.

Hartnell held out hope. He kept his tropical getaway plans on hold, wishing that his half season 25-goal effort would be validated.

"You never want to hope for injuries or something to happen to a guy that has been picked," Hartnell said. "I wasn't banking on that. I had a backup plan. But I'm just super excited to be going to Ottawa."

Hartnell said it was "extra special" to get the call from Shanahan in front of his father. Bill Hartnell, a retired elementary school principal who flew in all the way from Lloydminster, Alberta, already saw his son score five goals over the weekend against the Devils and Bruins.

"He's had a great year, so this is nice to see," Bill Hartnell said. "I've been pretty fortunate, I've been on about 10 [trips], and it's really a time that you can spend time talking about the neat parts of his life, how things are going and how hockey is. I really look forward to it every year.

"It's quality time, where you're maybe in a quieter place. Even when he's home, he's busy, and you might not even get an hour to talk about different things and catch up."

Hartnell will make his first trip to the All-Star Game, though he did participate in the Young Stars game in 2002 in Los Angeles. Since joining the league as an 18-year-old, he has traveled a long road to get to this point.

"I think of myself as a good hockey player, but you look at the All-Star Game and the names that have been there in the past, like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Steve Yzerman - or even the guys who play nowadays, like Joe Thornton - and to think of yourself part of that group is hard," Hartnell said. "It almost seems a little far-fetched at times. Now I'll be there playing with them."

With the All-Star Fantasy Draft taking place tomorrow night, Giroux - one of five Flyers representatives in Ottawa, even more than the host Senators - had his own joke for his usual linemate.

"I hope I play against him," Giroux said. "I'll have to tell him to keep his head up."


"Sometimes, no matter how much you practice, a player is going to bite you because he makes a good move. They have a couple moves that they're working on in practice everyday. Sometimes, everything hits you. Other times, they rip you apart."

- Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who is 0-for-5 on shootout attempts this season, on whether practice leads to success in breakaway contests.

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