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Social Media: The redefinition of how hockey news is received Print
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Written by Dan Marrazza   
Thursday, 31 January 2013 14:24

It's often discussed, in the media industry, how social media is the new medium of communication. Recently, Milwaukee Admirals captain Mike Moore learned this lesson when he found out that he was placed on waivers via Twitter.

Any hockey fan who has ever seen Slap Shot should be familiar with Barclay Donaldson.

Donaldson, before a faceoff with Paul Newman’s Reggie Dunlop, was the opposing player who was notified of being released from his contract (with Minnesota) after Dunlop relayed a headline he read in The Hockey News, who responded to Dunlop revealing the news of his release to him by manhandling Dave Carlson in the fight in which “Killer Carlson” first received his nickname.

Although a hockey player finding out that he was released from his contract before an opening faceoff, or from The Hockey News, could have hypothetically been possible in the Slap Shot era of 1977, it is hard to imagine this happening in 2013.

In fact, between the Internet and social media, it’s almost impossible these days for players to not almost immediately be made aware if they are released from their contract, traded or placed on waivers.

Case in point: The captain of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, Mike Moore, who recently received social-media notification of being placed on waivers so quickly that he had not even been notified by his team of the decision in person yet.

And Moore doesn’t even have his own Twitter account.

However, one of Moore’s teammates, Michael Latta, does have Twitter, and is one of the 483,000-plus who follow TSN Insider Bob McKenzie.

On January 13, with McKenzie in the process of constantly tweeting out the League’s waiver wire, he tweeted: “NSH: M Moore. WPG: Ben Maxwell. PIT: S McIntyre, J Zatkoff, B Thiessen. That is all.”

At the time of McKenzie’s tweet, Latta and Moore were eating breakfast together in Milwaukee, so all it took was a quick word across the table for Moore to learn of what happened. All the while, the personnel decision was in the process of being delivered from the Admirals’ parent club, the Nashville Predators, to Milwaukee, presumably being just moments away from being directly delivered to Moore in person.

“You used to read newspaper clips to find out what happened,” joked Moore, who cleared waivers and was back in the Admirals’ lineup within days. “Now, there is just so much information out there. It’s unbelievable what’s out there.”

Realistically, it’s hard to imagine that Moore was the first—nor will he be the last—player to find out that he was placed on waivers, released or traded via social media. Because the inescapable fact is that the evolution of social media has redefined the nature of communication so that there’s no longer any delay in a message’s delivery, no matter the time of day or a person’s physical location.

In the business of hockey, social media has completely changed the levels to which teams and players can consistently communicate with an unprecedented amount of fans in record time.

However, social media also impacts the business of hockey in that it makes it more difficult for teams to treat their players “right.”Mike Moore

In the past, if an AHL player were to be placed on waivers such as Moore recently was, a representative from his team’s parent club would probably meet with him in person to inform him and potentially discuss the decision. This type of direct communication not only serves as a respectful way for a team to treat its players, but it also effectively minimizes miscommunication.

Really, the evolution of social media has not—and perhaps “should not”— changed the way teams deal with their players, although it does make it more difficult for teams to communicate their decisions before a player becomes aware of them from an external news outlet.

But although the existence of social media means that these “premature discoveries” will probably continue to occur, it doesn’t mean that teams should necessarily take shortcuts and sacrifice proper behavior for the sake of allowing a player to know something as soon as possible. Because while times change, people generally don’t, and for the most part, it still usually makes sense for management to treat players the same ways in 2013 as it did before social media was mainstreamed in the last decade.

Although some might argue that there should be a happy medium wherein teams can prevent their players from first finding out their decisions from news outlets while still remaining respectful, there really is no way for a team to 100 percent shield its players from social media. Plus, the social-media cycle is continuous and takes no breaks, where a player can, at any given time, not be instantaneously available for a meeting or even reachable by phone.

So players continuing to find out about transactions involving themselves from social media before being told by their teams will probably continue to occur—and perhaps become more prevalent—as social media continues to evolve in the future.

However, how players handle the social-media phenomenon lies in the hands of each individual, himself.

In the case of Moore, a Princeton-bred AHL veteran who is well-versed in the waiver process, learning about his personal news on Twitter was no major issue.

“When he was put in a situation where he was put on waivers, it didn’t change anything with him,” said Admirals head coach Dean Evason of Moore. “He’s never a guy who changes the way he conducts himself. Mike Moore is just a quality person, and he continued to go about his business.”

Although he cleared waivers and returned to the Admirals’ lineup within days, Moore, a fifth-year AHL veteran with six games of NHL experience, could very well have been claimed. If anything, the reason the 205-pound, stay-at-home defenseman was not claimed—and why he did not make the Predators’ NHL roster—was because he missed almost two full months of action directly leading into the NHL’s CBA resolution after breaking his right hand in a fight with Oklahoma City’s Dane Byers on November 17.

“In hockey, there are lots of things that have to go right for you to get an opportunity in the NHL,” said Moore. “That’s not just in hockey; that’s in life. I try not to think about what might have been. You can’t bother yourself thinking about the things you can’t control. That’s the game of life.”

Moore may have prophetically phrased “the game of life,” however, there might only be one way to phrase “the game of social media,” and that would be that “it has only just begun.”

Although understanding “the game of life” will always remain the most important thing in larger terms, understanding “the game of social media” will undoubtedly continue to be an important part of understanding “the game of life.” Not to mention, understanding “the game of social media” will be continue to become more and more of a vital part of how hockey teams and players interact with the outside world, and each other.

In unrelated news, the case of Mike Moore proves that Bob McKenzie breaks stories so quickly now that he even relays news before teams even have the chance to communicate the messages, themselves.

I guess that’s how you earn the title “TSN Insider?”
 
Photos by Getty Images







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Last Updated on Monday, 04 February 2013 14:09