DENVER – Like any other hardcore Flyers fan, Seth Hastings was overtly frustrated with Scott Hartnell’s propensity to fall to the ice with regularity over the course of last season.
It got to be so ridiculous, in Hastings’ mind that he decided to keep track of every stumble publicly using his Twitter account (@SethDH)
to memorialize each fall with the hash tag #Hartnelldown.
It quickly became a trending tag during Flyers games, with fans and media alike using it to reference every time Hartnell fell on his britches.
But something changed this season in a way that Hastings could never imagine.
Hartnell created his own Twitter account (@Hartsy19)
and immediately followed Hastings. He reached out to Hastings to find out about the hash tag and decided that the two could work together to turn the tag into a positive.
“When I first saw it, I was kind of caught off guard,” Hartnell said. “I was like, ‘What is that’ because I didn’t know what it meant. I found out a little later that this count kept going up every time I fell down, so I could have hated it or embraced it.
“I talked to my agent and asked him if he thought it would be cool to make some t-shirts about it and take all the proceeds and give them to charity. He said, ‘let’s do it’ and within a couple of days I had the web site and the shirts. I tweeted about it and Seth was shocked that it got this big but he was excited thttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhat this was all going to charity so he was a good guy.”
The shirts, designed by Hartnell, feature the infamous hash tag on the front with the number 19 on the back and the words “down and dirty” on top of Hartnell’s Twitter handle.
They are available on Hartnell’s web site(Hartnelldown.com)
and all proceeds will be donated to charity.
Hartnell will give some money to local charities in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan that are recipients of money raised at the annual Scott Hartnell-Clark MacArthur Celebrity Golf Classic, and provide a couple of Philly area hockey players the chance to enroll in Minnesota Hockey Camps, a summer camp that hones hockey skills.
“Never in a million years did I expect this,” said Hastings, 26, a cook from Middletown, Pa (near Hershey) where he can be found serving up food at Hershey Park, the Giant Center and Hershey Park Stadium. “It started off as kind of a joke last year and then it took off when he joined Twitter and became a whole new beast.”
Hartnell called Hastings and offered him a pair of tickets to last Saturday’s loss to Boston and then met up with Hastings after the game and posed for pictures with the t-shirts.
“It’s wild,” Hastings said. “It’s what dreams are made of as a sports fan. You follow a team and at the end of the day the players are just normal guys when you get to meet them. It’s pretty cool to be associated with a guy who plays for the team who I love more than maybe life itself.”
Hartnell added that he’s going to try to convince some of his teammates to wear the shirts in the locker room once the Flyers get home so they can be seen on camera to promote the site even further.
It’s the least Hartnell’s teammates can do considering they give him as much grief – if not more – every time he falls to the ice.
“I’ve scored a couple of goals now where I’ve ended up on my butt and the counter goes up, so that’s a good thing,” Hartnell said. “You have to be light-hearted about it, you know? Every time I fall down in practice now all the boys start yelling ‘Hartnell Down,’ so that’s pretty good.”
So ,Hartnell has gone from social media whipping boy to Twitter darling this season – and not just because he’s having a very good season offensively.
it’s gone all the way from Twitter to charity, which is kind of surreal to me,” Hastings said.“It’s totally different now than when we first started. At the beginning it was more because everybody was ragging on Hartnell because of the contract he had and here he was falling down all the time, now he’s second on the team in goals and is a big contributor to the team and it has a whole different meaning .”
It does – but primarily because Hartnell has proven to be an athlete who gets it, and gets the fans, putting him into a refreshing minority.
Some other quick hitters for you….
-Jaromir Jagr and Jake Voracek are both wearing the letters “VH” on the back of their helmets tonight in tribute to former Czech President Vaclav Havel, who died over the weekend. Havel was instrumental in orchestrating the country’s freedom.
-Adrian Dater, the fine Avalanche beat writer from the Denver Post, asked Peter Laviolette today if he thought the art of the slapshot from a hard skating winger down the wall was a lost art. Lavvy had one gem of a response:
“I think the last real good one that we had, an old school, old-fashioned, slap drive was Jody Shelley’s in Atlanta last season,” Laviolette said. “It was world class, down the wing, blow it by you. It was epic. “Now, there’s time and space and gaps and everybody’s quick to defend and reloads are hard from behind, but he blocked a shot, got out of the defensive zone and down the wing and he was moving fast and hard and he just wound up and ripped it top shelf. It was a thing of beauty.”
-Matt Walker saw his first action for the Flyers since Oct. 26, replacing Kevin Marshall in the lineup. He missed 13 games after clearing waivers (twice) and being sent to Adirondack of the AHL. He has also been a healthy scratch for nine games in that same span.
It’s been a trying experience for Walker, 31, who hasn’t been able to getany regular time with the Flyers since being acquired as part of the Simon Gagne trade with Tampa in the summer of 2010.
“Im excited,” he said. “It’s been a long time, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing again.
“It’s been extremely hard. It never gets easier, whether you’re a young guy or an old guy. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But you have to wait your turn. The team was on a hot streak there so you don’t expect things to change up because it’s tough for coaches to change things. So you have to bide your time and be ready. Every day you’re hoping something’s different, but you have to wait it out.”
-Former Flyer Mike Knuble will become the 20th American player to play 1,000 games when he suits up for the Washington Capitals tomorrow. Here’s what Knuble had to say about the accomplishment (quotes courtesy of Steve Whyno of the Washington Times):
“I was trying to make my way,” Knuble said. “I was just trying to make the '04 lockout – 400 games. I think that was a pretty good milestone. Back in the day, that used to be like a different pension level, so that was the big goal – get to 400 games. It's changed since then. It's something I've been looking forward to the last probably couple years. You try and stay healthy and you never know with your contract status and all that.
“You get up there a little bit in the high (800s) and you start to think it's a possibility. You have to stay healthy and have good fortune and be in the right situation. I don't know. It's good. It's going to be like unwrapping a birthday present, kind of. And then the day after you'll be like, 'Huh.' Now you've just got to keep going.
“ You spent so long – you spend the first four or five years of your career trying to lock up a spot in the league and try to prove to everybody that you can play and that you're worthy of them getting you another contract and worthy of them investing time and energy into you. That's enough of a battle. Once you get over that hump and you've proved you can play, then it's a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy. You play with great teammates that help you stay in the game and play well on the ice but keep you entertained off the ice and keep you fresh coming to the rink every day.”