Twitter and Its Growing Impact on Hockey
There's no denying the popularity of Twitter. Almost everyone has an account these days, and those involved with hockey are among the many. Executives, coaches, officials, players and others all have active accounts, almost all of them chronicling their daily lives inside of the sport.
A surprising trend is the increasing power that social media is gaining within the sport, both inside and outside of the game. This became clear during the NHL's trade deadline, where thousands of players and fans alike took to Twitter to voice their opinions on that Monday's moves.
Analysts at TSN and Rogers Sportsnet, two of the top news outlets on deadline day and for potential transactions in general, are some of the busiest Twitter users out there and kept a strong pace until the deadline hit.
People count on Gord Miller, Pierre LeBrun and Nick Kypreos among others for the latest news when it comes to potential trades, signings, rumors and the ever-revolving waiver wire. Those same people don't expect imposters to do their job just as well.
"Gord Miller" of TSN confirms that the Florida Panthers have traded Marty Reasoner to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick. It's re-tweeted by 11 people, seen by many, many more.
"Pierre LeBrun" reports that Brad Richards goes to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Nazem Kadri, Clarke MacArthur and a conditional first-round pick. It's re-tweeted by 34 people, viewed by thousands more.
"Nick Kypreos" reports that Dustin Penner is traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Jarred Tinordi and a first-round pick. It's retweeted by 72 users, seen by tens of thousands. Previously, he duped others with a Zenon Konopka trade to the Ducks.
All three accounts were fakes, spoofs, hoaxes created to mock fans and journalists all too eager to consume any shred of new information at the deadline. The malarkey made Deadspin, as tacit an endorsement of its whimsical chaos as there is in modern sports media. As the dust settled on a rather uneventful deadline day, the perpetrators, fans and the medium itself were being scolded for their mischievous irresponsibly.
I don't know what's scarier, the fact that the fake accounts were able to do the amount of damage they did, or that the trades they thought of were so damn believable by others.
Kypreos also caught some flack for a Tweet that may not have been targeted for the general public. It's a reminder that in this new age of social media, we need to toe the line in terms of what should and shouldn't be said through a specifc medium. One bad settings and private becomes public.
However, Twitter isn't bad for hockey. For all of the trouble that it can cause, this year's trade deadline being among the worst possible examples of absuive so far, it can also be used in a positive and fun way.
Cases in point: Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0), always a fan favorite on this site, but not elsewhere besides cities he's played in, has quickly become one of the most popular and entertaining players on Twitter, extending the reach of his personal brand as an NHL player immensely.
Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) had a surprising amount of help in finding his recently lost cell phone courtesy of his followers, who were able to track down the device in a matter of minutes, with some sweet prizes as motivation, of course.
Social media is likely here to stay and is going to impact almost everything, even the sport of hockey, positvely and negatively. It will be interesting to see how the two co-exist in the years and seasons to come.
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