Something We Can All Agree On: Scott Hartnell 2013

The wild Philadelphia Flyer talks about his campaign to be on the cover of EA Sports NHL 13.
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The wild Philadelphia Flyer talks about his campaign to be on the cover of EA Sports NHL 13.
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The Philadelphia Flyers’ agitator talks about his campaign to be on the cover of EA Sports NHL 13.

Photo: Kirby Lee / US Presswire | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

This year, we face one of the most important elections of our lives. For the first time ever, EA Sports is allowing you, the fans, to vote for the cover star of NHL 13. Along with the usual superstar names like Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Henrik Lundqvist is a dark horse candidate from Philly named Scott Hartnell. On the strength of his online campaign, the notorious gadfly (who gleefully takes on opposing players and their fans with equal vigor) is rocketing through the brackets, and may well bring his frizzy, Wookiee-like mane to the cover of video games worldwide. We caught him for a few minutes after Philadelphia Flyers practice to talk about his team’s playoff run, the one guy he doesn’t want to match up against in the EA voting, and who would play on his All-Hair Team.

When did you decide, “I must be on the cover of this game at all costs”?

Well, round one started a few weeks ago and in the first round you go against your teammate, and I went up against Claude Giroux. And honestly he’s one of the best players in the league and a fan favorite – so he ended up beating me. But they had one wild card [slot] for the Eastern Conference so I was able to snag that spot and I made it to the second round. So then I did a video that I think came out pretty funny and I think the fans liked it so I’ll hopefully get a couple of votes that way.

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If you get special cover star treatment and you’re able to design a signature move for your in-game self, what will it be?

Probably #hartnelldown. There was that charity that I started, with me falling down. Fans seem to like it. It would funny if they could hit a button, like R2 or something, and down goes Hartnell [laughs].

Would your other infamous hashtag, #suckitphaneuf, make it into the game?

Yeah, that one was at the All-Star Game. People have Tweeted that, that they’d buy the game so long as it said #suckitphaneuf or “#hartnelldown, so it’s been pretty funny. With Twitter, it’s good and bad. You get a lot of great comments from a lot of fans and a lot of support and everything but then there are the fans from other teams who absolutely hate you and obviously say bad things – but it’s pretty cool to have that interaction with fans.

Speaking of fan interaction, have you adopted the Hulk Hogan impression permanently, or just when you see the Hulk Hogan Pens fan?

I’ve always tried to have fun with fans. I know how Philly fans are, how passionate they are, they’d do anything for their team, so when you’re playing well and you’re in another team’s building, you have their hardcore fans chirping you it’s fun to chirp back. Just as long as they know it’s all in fun.

Are most fan chirps awful, or have you ever heard someone say something and been like “OK, that was pretty funny”?

There’s some funny guys. There’s a guy in L.A. who stands behind the visiting team’s bench. He just sits there and he’ll pick on a different guy almost every game. And I’ve heard some of the funniest things come out of his mouth.

For most of his career, Jaromir Jagr has had the greatest hockey hair of all time. But since joining the Flyers, he’s kept it short. Have you intimidated him with your mane?

That’s one thing, when they first signed him, I said it would be pretty cool to play with him, if I grew my hair out and he always had the long mullet as well - we’ll have the best hair line in hockey.

How do you tame it off the ice? Hair nets? Scrunchies?

Right now I got it in a, yeah…a scrunchie kind of ponytail. But the curls kind of do their thing. I really have no control.

I can’t imagine a locker room with both you and Ilya Bryzgalov in it – is it just a constant game of one-upmanship?

Bryz one-ups himself, like, every day. Whether it’s quotes in the media, and the way they interact with him. He’s got a different personality but if you know how to take him he’s a really, really funny guy. I think the media has kind of portrayed him as kind of an awkward or a weird guy, but he’s a good man.

You guys just finished up one of the wildest playoff series of all time against Pittsburgh, with crazy scores like 8-5, 8-4, and 10-3…Where’s the team’s head at now?

It was definitely wild. It had the goals and the fights and the blowouts, all that kind of stuff. They were one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs and we played really well against them. It gave us a lot of confidence that we can beat good teams, and you have to go through good teams to get where we want to go, which is the Stanley Cup Finals and obviously we want to win it. It definitely gives us some confidence moving forward.

If the EA Sports voting comes down to you and one other player, who is the one guy you don’t want to face?

Probably my teammate Claude Giroux. He beat me once, so I’d have a little extra motivation to beat him, but we were talking about maybe they could have both of us on the cover. That’s never been done before. But you have all these guys from their different fan bases – it’d be tough for Philly to have to pick between Giroux and myself.  But hopefully they pick #hartnelldown.

Finally, who are the starting six for the Hartnell All-Hair Team?

Um….Kris Versteeg. Let me think here. Ryan Smyth from Edmonton. Myself. 1991 Jaromir Jagr. [laughs] I need a defenseman in there…Probably Duncan Keith, from Chicago. And in goal, probably Roberto Luongo. He’s got a little mullet back there.

Become a part of Team #Hartnelldown and vote for the EA Sports NHL 13 cover star now.