Girgensons leads by half-a-million in All-Star Game vote

Take note – story published 9 years ago

With just two days left before popular voting ends for the National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star Game, Latvia’s favorite son Zemgus Girgensons, the 20-year old forward for the Buffalo Sabres, is still ahead of the pack with almost a million-and-a-half votes, reported the US sports media Wednesday.

On Tuesday the NHL announced that Girgensons had received more than 1.46 million votes from hockey fans, most of them his fellow countryfolk in Latvia and around the world. Apparently, the die-hard Latvian fans don’t eschew racking up phone bills up to the ten permitted calls per day from a single IP address in order to propel the second-year player into the All-Star Game, to be played on January 25 in Columbus.

His closest rivals, Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews trail with just over a million votes each, albeit reportedly closing the gap slightly before the end of voting comes Thursday night.

“It's a little bit embarrassing and funny at the same time,” Girgensons told the Associated Press last week. “It came out of nowhere. I know people know me back home, but I didn't think it was going to go that far. That's like crazy far.”

However, Girgensons’ former coach Jim Montgomery, now at University of Denver, isn’t surprised at all by the young player’s success. The DU coach, for whom Girgensons played on the US Hockey League’s Dubuque Fighting Saints from 2010-2012 predicted to USA Today last week that “he’s going to be the best Latvian to ever play the game.“

"We all saw how proud Latvians were of (former NHL star) Sandis Ozolinsh," coach Montgomery said. "And then combine their pride with Zemgus' personality. He is really magnetic. Everyone loves being around him. For a player who was a star at 16 and a captain at 17, there was not one bit of jealousy because of how hard he works. He connects with everybody."

Indeed, Girgensons has devoted himself to excelling at Latvia’s beloved sport since childhood. After seeing an American team from Vermont play at a tournament in Sweden, the fourteen-year old Zemgus wrote a personal letter to its coach and wound up joining the Green Mountain Glades by the age of sixteen.

On his part, Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray said that Girgensons’ leading is “quite a story, but I have to believe he’s a rock star over in his country.” The Sabres, currently in the league’s Atlantic Division last-place position, are coached by Ted Nolan, who also headed Latvia’s national team at the Sochi Winter Olympics last year, earning a special place in the hearts of many Latvians.

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important