The NHL's Voice of the People Is ... in Latvian?
All-Star balloting in any of the four major North American sports can present some tough decisions for the conscientious voter.
In hockey, fans from the traditional strongholds of Canada, the USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the Czech Republic have an abudance of home-pride favorites. Not even Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist, or Alex Ovechkin are unanimous picks.
Not so in the smaller outposts. And this season, that point's being made in spades:
It's not tough to understand why Girgensons would become a fan favorite:
And it didn't take long to confirm that even in the NHL, dude's got game:
But that's all icing on whatever cake anyone wants to make of it, which might have a few bakers mulling their own recipe at NHL headquarters. Latvian fans have proved time and again they can mobilize for hockey. Witness this report from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin:
And Ted Nolan damn near became a Latvian legend after the national team's incredible run at the Sochi Olympics, when they almost rope-a-doped Canada. As if Buffalo wasn't unofficially on Latvian fandom's map already, cue the stirring soundtrack:
So maybe the NHL should've anticipated this. When All-Star balloting went to social media, Latvians were ready. Girgensons' homies didn't care that he's sitting 121st in scoring this season -- 8+6=14 -- they were digitally locked and loaded for the cause.
And wherever there's a Latvian, there's a cause.