Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hartnell's heart still intact despite heel turn

Like it or not, Scott Hartnell is a Blue Jacket.

While acknowledging that the fans who once feted him in Orange and Black can be tough on those who return in enemy colors, he admitted that the ties no longer bind, towards the end of his introductory press conference, held Tuesday morning in Ohio's capital.

"I don't know ... Mike Richards when he came back with L.A. for the first time, I think they cheered him right off the bat," Hartnell said with a sly smile when asked the million-dollar question about Philadelphia's hockey faithful. He kinda had the puck for 10 seconds going up the ice and there were some boos going on. I'm sure that'll happen. That's part of the game. That's the fun of the game. I'm sure I'll be as hated (in Philly) as in Pittsburgh ... it means you're doing the good things if you're hated, so hopefully I could be just as hated there that I am in Pittsburgh."

Unlike the exoduses of Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, Flyers fans will have plenty of time to let the 31-year-old know exactly where he stands. A packed house in full throat will get their first chance to acknowledge Hartnell the villain come November 14, and then again only eight days later. The last of three home dates against their Metropolitan Division rivals will occur on February 17.

"Seven years is a long time, and on the deal I signed there a couple years ago, I thought I would retire there. So it was a hard few days. I was emotional to begin with. Kimmo Timonen is my best friend, we played together in Nashville and got traded there together. To play against him for the first time, that would be a little shocking. I'm excited about going into Philly for the first time and getting two points."

However, in that same presser, Hartnell reassured those who know him for his charitable ventures, that it won't change despite the move seven hours to the West. #Hartnelldown lives.

"I'm going to start in Columbus here, we're going to take 10 or 12 kids from hockey programs and come up to Minnesota hockey camps," he stated. "Mr. Snider, we had a couple kids come up from Philadelphia all the way to Minnesota and they trained with players like myself, Wayne Simmonds, T.J. Oshie. It's pretty cool for those young kids who never left Philadelphia to experience a pro training camp, so to speak.

"I never thought in a million years that I'd have a foundation. I've done things before in Nashville and Philly without recognition, but this foundation is pretty cool. To give back to the sport of hockey and less fortunate kids ... and just kinda have fun doing sports ... and to be active and fit and have fun is all part of the deal."

Hartnell might have had his heart ripped out once the Flyers notified him he wouldn't be part of their plans going forward back in late June. That doesn't mean he's about to totally turn against his former club and city now that he's building a future with Columbus. He had a couple of now former teammates who vouched for his new location.

"It took about three or four days when I got the call from Philadelphia that the trade went through. I didn't want to involve my teammates in getting into the middle of it. I did talk to Mase and Jake and they said you'll love the city. You're going to love the fans. And just watching the playoffs last year, they seemed to be as loud as anywhere."

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