OTTAWA — If enthusiasm is infectious, then Scott Hartnell should have been quarantined during the NHL All-Star Weekend. The Philadelphia Flyers forward leaves Ottawa having been the antithesis of every cliché about how players desiring to be anywhere but the midseason classic during the midseason break.
"It's a celebration of hockey," said Hartnell, after his Team Alfredsson dropped a 12-9 decision to Team Chara in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday.
"To get 42 of the best in the NHL playing here … seeing the skills yesterday was pretty cool. What guys can do with the puck. How hard Chara's shot is. It's really gonna hurt next time you block it; you're gonna get 108 [mph] in your head or your ankle."
Two players Hartnell said he was thrilled to meet and play with: Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks.
"You don't really get to know them from watching them on TV. Everyone's just super nice. I like the Sedin twins. They're really funny. But I still don't know which one's which," he said with a laugh.
On one pretty goal in the first period, he was an honorary Sedin triplet … albeit one that isn't afraid to chirp Dion Phaneuf, as Hartnell did when he told the Leafs captain to "suck it" on CBC television.
"He's a red head, so we're going to like him," said fellow ginger said Daniel Sedin. "He's a character. Fun to be around. And a great player too."
Hartnell said that playing on that line — the "reddest hair in the All-Star Game" — was a thrill.
"It was neat. You watch these guys, the little passes that go back and forth. It was pretty cool. I asked [Coach John Tortorella] after the first period when he took me off the line, 'Did I have a bad period?' Just jokin' around with everyone," he said.
Any chance the Flyers reunite him with the Sedins?
"Sure, " he said, with a smile, "we'd probably have to lose half our team."
Aside from trying to keep up with the Sedins, Hartnell's other focus during the All-Star Game was charity.
He announced prior to the All-Star Game that he would donate $1,000 to the charity of his choice for every "#hartnelldown" moment, and $1,000 for every goal.
He didn't score a goal -- he had two assists for a plus-2 -- but the official tally was four falls for $4,000. There was also talk that since he set up a Claude Giroux goal, perhaps his Flyers' teammate might add a few dollars to the drive.
Giroux also did his part to help out the charity drive in another way.
"He was trying to trip me every faceoff. He got me down in warmup. I don't know if you saw that one," said Hartnell.
Like any intense player, the All-Star Game was a change of pace for Hartnell. Opponents he'd battle against in regular season rivalry games — like Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers — were suddenly sharing the stall next to him.
"You play against them how many times, and you don't get to know them on a personal level," he said. "They turn out to be awesome guys. You hate them on the ice. Push comes to shove, it'll be the same thing [next time we play]: I'll hit'em every chance I get."
He was also the first player to throw a registered body check in the All-Star Game.
"That's my game," he said. "I wasn't trying to hurt anyone. Just wanted to hear how the crowd reacted."
Also part of his game, of course: Yapping. Like telling a certain Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman to "suck it."
Are there any repercussions for chirping in an All-Star Game?
"No," said Dion Phaneuf. "He had a mic on so he was trying to make a show of it. He did a good job of that."
"Yeah, I was chirping everybody," said Hartnell. "It's part of my game and I'm trying to have fun with it."
He had fun. Enough to where he wouldn't think twice about giving up another few days other players would rather spend at the beach or on the couch to compete in the NHL All-Star Game.
"I don't how many more I'm gonna be going to. I wanted to enjoy it," he said. "Next year, if I have another good start, I'll be here again."