Social media changing how we interact with NHL stars 0
Twitter's made professional athletes more accessible to fans.
Seldom has a tweet been so anticipated.
Moments after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stepped to the microphone at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., at the 2013 NHL Draft and announced to a chorus of boos, “I think you’re going to want to hear this,” hockey fans the continent over headed onto Twitter. The Vancouver Canucks had just shipped goaltender Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the ninth-overall pick in that day’s draft. That left veteran netminder Roberto Luongo — who had been waiting patiently more than a season to be traded — in a state of shock. Or so everyone assumed.
How is he going to react? Will he attend training camp? Is he ultimately willing to stay in Vancouver?
With that, the league watched Twitter for a response from the man known across the Twitter-verse as @Strombone1.
And then, finally, later that night ... “#NOtradeclause.”
To the dismay of hockey fans — and hockey media — Luongo had apparently been wise enough to give himself some time to digest the shocking news before he fired off a tweet. Anyone looking for a reponse along the lines of Luongo’s sometimes snarky, mostly funny tweets was out of luck.
Still, it was a moment which served to show how much the movement of information has changed in the NHL in just a few years. Whether it was Schneider being shipped to Jersey, an early-morning deal to end the 2012-13 lockout, or Jarome Iginla’s trade to the Boston Bruins ... er, Pittsburgh Penguins ... fans who want to know immediately what’s up aren’t heading to their computers, they’re whipping out their phones.
That immediate, unfiltered access is the same reason fans flock to Twitter in search of their favourite players. It’s a unique piece of technology that offers fans a glimpse into the personalities of NHLers — finding out what’s on Alex Ovechkin’s mind without having to learn to speak Russian, as it were. And while it occasionally gets some of the more mercurial players into trouble — what with the lack of a seven-second delay and everything — it also offers a conduit into the lives of our hockey heroes.
Who, outside the Phoenix Coyotes dressing room, would have known Paul Bissonnette was so funny. Or Dustin Penner? Or Ben Lovejoy?
One could hardly be surprised Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) is approaching 680,000 followers. Or that Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (@88PKane) has 404,536. Or that Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin (@malkin71_) has 373,000.
But Paul Bissonnette having 495,000?
Then you check out his account
(@BizNasty2Point0) and all becomes clear. After wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving a few months ago and receiving a response from a follower asking if it was alright to have a “mediocre Thanksgiving,” Bissonnette tweeted: “No @GoldblumRules. You either fist fight a family member or you all harmonize in Christmas carols. None of that it was “OK” stuff. Grow up.”
Mystery solved. This guy is just really funny.
In the same vein, we probably ought to work on getting Anaheim Ducks teammates Penner (@Dustinpenner25) and Lovejoy (@RevLovejoy) some more followers. Their current numbers — 94,500 and 28,200, respectively — are pretty good (certainly far beyond the dozen and change who are privvy to my retweets), but if the number of Twitter followers is tied directly to sense of humour, they really need to be closer to Ovi’s 680,000.
“If Bruce Jenner & Kris K can’t make it work is there any hope for the rest of us?!? In all seriousness Bruce should get a medal #PurpleHeart,” Penner offered a few months back upon catching wind of marital strife.
Here are a few more gems from around the league ...
n From Lovejoy, back when the Mayan calendar was predicting the end of the world: “Prob gonna be a rough practice today.
Told Orpik and Engelland how I really felt about them last night. May have taken Mayan thing too far.”
n From Ottawa Senators winger Matt Kassian
(@kassassination) on Christmas Eve: “Random Bedtime Aspiration: Set up bear traps & snares to catch Santa - Use him as bait to capture elves & then get them to make me stuff...”
n From Buffalo Sabres defenceman Christian Ehrhoff (@TheRealHoff10), the day his team hired new head coach Ted Nolan: “People keep asking me today ‘So you have a new boss?’ No, I’m still with my wife.”
Of the 645-million or so registered Twitter-users, the NHLPA feed’s list of “All active, on-roster NHL Players” boasts 285 members. Throw in the various team accounts (@LAKings & @DallasStars are worth following), and the NHL’s official feed (@NHL), which has upwards of 2.25-million followers, as well as the myriad media feeds (I hear @SUNSports is really, really good), and there isn’t much left to the imagination.
For a company which deals in the business of information, that’s just fine.
Time will tell whether players will eventually tire of sharing with fans the minutia of their lives, but while they’re still willing to do so, we’ll offer you a peek into the life of an Olympic hockey player via Russian superstar Ovechkin’s feed.
“Сейчас смотрю открытие Олимпиады,у меня нет слов!!!спасибо за этот праздник!!!я горд за свою страну!!!! @Sochi2014”
Anyone read Russian?