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  • Will Twitter create an even duller hockey player? Print
    Written by Justin Bourne   
    Friday, 27 August 2010 16:01
    Justin Bourne

    At the start of the 2008-2009 hockey season, I was in training camp with the Hershey Bears, going over my media guide – not the "media guide" the media get. This was the "guide to the media."

    The advice I received in Hershey was as straightforward and simple as any other team's. Everywhere you played (a couple years ago, anyway), they could've pared the whole thing down from two pages to one sentence: "Be respectful and thoughtful."


    That was less than two years ago. But a lot has changed since then.

    Cue the evil music: TWITTER. (Duhn Duhn Duhhhhhh!)

    Quality NHL goaltender and all-around good guy Dan Ellis got in hot water for comparing what he does to the specialized work of brain surgeons. Newly-minted social media star Paul Bissonnette got pulled from Twitter by his agent like a Mom reefing back her six-year old son from wandering into a windowless, unmarked white van for candy. Sean Avery disappeared from Twitter like the six-year old whose Mom wasn't around to grab him.

    And suddenly, it's a whole new media landscape.

    I've been begging for some NHLers to show some public personality in recent years – I know it's in those locker rooms.  Thankfully, the ever-uncensored Twitter has allowed us to see more than usual. But as I referenced above, it's creating new headaches for PR departments, agents and athletes the sport-world over.

    And you know what I'm worried is going to come from that new problem? A new new problem.

    Increased dullness, if you can fathom it.

    A lot of hockey players (most notably Sidney Crosby) are pros at controlling the media and their image. But as more forms of media interaction are created and explored, it gets harder and harder to do. Twitter's a tough tool to utilize – nay, manipulate – since it's insincere if it's not the actual athlete behind the account. And if it is, it's risky (and stressful) for those doing that athlete's image-management.

    Basically, if anything inappropriate comes out so much as once, it can cause chaos.

    Thus, Twitter is going to create actual boring humans, not just guys who put up a boring front. 

    Guys that occasionally let loose (as in, the ones who are fun to follow, some of whom have already been shown the twexit) just can't use Twitter. We'll end up seeing pictures of girls and beer, and hearing things that make 90 percent of us laugh and 10 percent of you furious. But that 10 percent can launch a pretty wicked backlash when something crosses the line.

    Back in the day, guys could say the right things on camera, then go out and funnel a bottle of Jack Daniels in Times Square, and all you'd end up with was about a hundred people who'd have an awesome story, and thousands who only see the TV interviews and insist on maintaining their position that Jack Chugger is a stand-up guy.

    Now, unfortunately, it's just smarter to just be legitimately safe and stay home. This new "pull back the curtain" form of media is a better fit for those whose life behind the curtain isn't all that adventurous.

    Twitter is TOO instant, TOO unfiltered for "fun" guys like Avery and Bissonnette (OK, Avery may not be your taste in fun, but the dude tears up Manhattan – you can take that to the bank). But guys like David Perron? Tweet away, brotha, nothing to hide there. (In fact, he's donating money to charities from Twitter-use. He's built for it.)

    Because of all this new media immediacy, there can be no double life. There can be no hotspot-hitting. You just end up like Tiger Woods if you try to beat technology now: Busted, embarrassed, and hated. (Remember the saved voicemails and sexts?!)

    So the next up-and-comer? He's going to be Sidney Crosby, not Babe Ruth (a lifestyle recently referenced in a great Joe Posnanski piece). You can blow it all in an instant, so why not just become the actual guy from the clichéd interviews and bank your bucks? You might as well get rich and famous, rather than busted, embarrassed and hated.

    So while Twitter has changed the landscape and let us know what certain players are actually like – such as Paul Bissonnette – I have a feeling we'll be seeing less @BizNasty's, and more dull-as-their-quotes players in the future. Boo. Hiss. 

    Comments (3)

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    I think Twitter would be instrumental in driving hockey fans crazy when both sides of the aisle will use it to their advantage.
    Sam Woo , August 28, 2010
    Crossing my fingers that you're wrong
    Sadly, you're probably right. I was happy to see the 2point0 come out, but I betcha it won't survive to the start of the season. But who knows, maybe this is the start of a new era of sports-heros-are-people-too and giving them a break when they pull a stupid. I'm all for that.
    Deirdre , September 01, 2010
    Crossing my fingers that you're right
    I like the idea of "sports 'heroes' as people too". Whatever we choose to call them, I hope that the new generation of stars proves a little leeway for error is acceptable. We all mess up occasionally! smilies/smiley.gif
    Justin Bourne , September 01, 2010

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    Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 August 2010 05:34