The Heart of Hartnell
After getting off to a slow start, Scott Hartnell has been having a fantastic season. But it is his off-ice contributions that are gaining Hartnell accolades these days.
A four-year veteran of the Philadelphia Flyers, Hartnell entered into this season’s training camp with 196 points in 357 games with the team.
During a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings on September 25, he was taken out in the third due to an elevated heart rate that wasn't settling, even after rest. According to head athletic trainer Jim McCrossin, Hartnell was also dealing with arm twitching as a result of the issue.
His heart rate went down after an “abnormally” long time, and he saw a cardiologist two days later, who cleared Hartnell after he had an echocardiogram and underwent a stress test.
When Hartnell returned to practice, he said that he wasn’t sure what caused the elevated heart rate, and neither was the cardiologist. Either way, he was feeling healthy again and happy to be back on the ice.
Unfortunately, Hartnell's production in the beginning of the season was not as rapid as his improving health.
Hartnell got off to a slow start, scoring only two points in seven games. He was on the third line due to his struggles in training camp and during the preseason, but that changed six games into the season.
Frustrated by his team’s lack of effort in a game against Washington, Coach Peter Laviolette decided to switch up the lines, and moved Hartnell up to the first line with Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux.
Hartnell scored nine points over the first five games with his new linemates. He now leads the team in power play goals with seven, has had eight multi-point games (including Monday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche), and was on a six-game goal scoring streak that was snapped against the Montreal Canadiens on December 15th.
While Hartnell’s on-ice contributions have helped his team plenty this season, it’s his off-ice contributions that have been making waves lately.
Last season, Flyers fan Seth Hastings (@SethDH) noticed how Hartnell had a penchant for not being able to stay upright at different moments in games.
As a joke, he began using the Twitter hashtag #hartnelldown and started a counter for how many times Hartnell fell during the season. Last year’s regular season counter ended at 241.
Hastings brought the #hartnelldown counter back for a second season, but decided to put a hold on it when Hartnell, the hashtag’s namesake, joined Twitter (@Hartsy19). That is, until Hartnell got wind of #hartnelldown and started using it in almost every tweet he posted.
#hartnelldown was catching on in a big way, and quick. Flyers beat writers began using it. CSN Philly began using it in their pre- and post-game broadcasts. Even some of Hartnell’s teammates started using it on Twitter, including James van Riemsdyk.
According to Hartnell himself, the guys yell “Hartnell down!” in the locker room if he takes a spill during practice.
It was one thing for Hartnell to take the hashtag (and joke) in stride. It was another thing completely to turn it into a fundraising effort for charity.
Hartnell created www.hartnelldown.com, a website that features a counter of how many times he falls during the season. The site also has t-shirts available for purchase, with proceeds going to various charities that Hartnell supports, including the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation in Alberta and a hockey camp in Regina, Saskatchewan, where Hartnell is from.
Hastings will be assisting Hartnell and the website’s maintainer on keeping the counter up-to-date.
If Hartnell continues to have the stellar season he has been as of late, he’ll have much to celebrate when it comes to his play. But even if he struggles on the ice, his off-ice accomplishments will be plenty to be proud of.
These days, his heart is healthy, and bigger than ever.