Fan voting for the NHL All-Star Game begins Wednesday at vote.nhl.com (the site, in a classic bit of NHL marketing, isn't up yet), and a group of Hurricanes fans is looking to get one of their own into the starting lineup.
Not any of the three players -- Eric Staal, Rod Brind'Amour and Ray Whitney -- on the official ballot, but veteran defenseman Niclas Wallin as a write-in candidate.
The movement started last week on a message board and gained momentum quickly. There's already a Web site up and running at VoteForWallin.com.
The Wallin write-in campaign follows on the success of the "Vote for Rory" campaign two years ago that nearly got then-Vancouver Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick into the starting lineup. (And might have, were it not for some shady circumstances surrounding the voting. This year's voting results will be available online, in real time at vote.nhl.com/results, which should prevent any NHL vote-fixing this time around.)
(UPDATE: Forgive me for assuming the NHL would get a URL right in its own press release. Follow the voting at vote.nhl.com/leaders, not vote.nhl.com/results. The above link to "results" will now take you to "leaders" instead.)
One difference here is that the Fitzpatrick campaign was at heart a joke -- let's get a guy, who while a good team player and a useful reserve, is about as far from "All-Star" as you can get, into the All-Star Game -- Wallin is actually having a good season and has had a solid career.
But the spirit is the same: It's partly a protest against the actual NHL ballot, which always offers an inexplicably narrow range of candidates for selection. (In the Web era, why not open up every player with an nhl.com bio for voting? Why not offer two forwards, one defenseman and one goalie from each team?) And it's partly an acknowledgement of a player who often goes unacknowledged. As an All-Star, the Secret Weapon would be a secret weapon no more.
Either way, whatever message you'd like to send, a vote for Wallin does it. We've heard a lot about voter turnout this month ... there's no reason to stop now!