It’s Friday. So we close out the "Week That Was" with our latest volume of… "Cheers and Jeers!"
This week, we talk a lot about Twitter. Nail Yakupov is good at it, fans should react better to stuff tweeted out on it, and the Canucks need to be faster on mammoth events like Bure finally making it to the Hall. Meanwhile did you hear about that coach who assaulted a kid in a handshake line? Fuck that guy…
JEERS to the Vancouver Canucks for their poor handling of Pavel Bure’s selection as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. We’ve simmered done some since the initial misstep, but we still think the team’s handling of the news was tone deaf. Even if the entire PR team was on summer vacation, I don’t understand why a Bure-centric press release wasn’t already written months (if not, years) in advance – as Bure finally making the cut was something of an inevitability. Beyond the delay, that they then grouped the franchise’s most exciting goal-scorer in with a free agent who played a half-season here is shocking.
CHEERS to Pavel Bure for his selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was a superstar and was easily the most electrifying player that the Canucks have ever had. While his split from the Canucks was acrimonious and his career was shortened by injuries, he will always be regarded warmly by most Canucks who followed the team during the 90’s.
JEERS to the continued exclusion of Pat Burns from the HHOF. I can’t jeers this strongly enough. Normally, I wouldn’t make much a big deal about a particular player, or coach, or builder being left off of the list for the Hall of Fame. However, Pat Burns won three Stanley Cups with three different teams. He should have been a first ballot HOF’er, and really, he should’ve skipped the waiting period. I’m not sure what justification the HOF selection committee has in continuing to leave Burns out of the Hall, but at this point, whatever their explanation – it’s just wrong.
CHEERS to Adam Oates for a doubly great day, as he was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the new head coach of the Washington Capitals. The John Stockton of the NHL had a wonderful career, and has been an assistant coach in the league for 3 seasons with New Jersey. He’s well regarded in Washington by the players and Oates now has an interesting task ahead of him as he tries to get the Capitals to return to their high-octane, offense-first mentality – something which will no doubt be preferred by Ovechkin, Backstrom, and the rest.
JEERS to UBC bantam coach Martin Tremblay, who tripped an opposing player, causing the boy to break his wrist. This disgraceful, pitiful man deliberately tripped the player from Richmond in the handshakes lineup right in front of the opposing coach and then tried to claim that it was an accident. The boy fell hard to the ice, breaking his wrist and causing a furor amongst the parents in attendance. As a parent of a kid in minor hockey, I honestly can’t think of a more despicable act than a coach harming a child in any way. Rightfully, the Vancouver Hockey Association immediately banned Tremblay and the VPD is considering criminal charges. Throw the book at this clown.
CHEERS to Sidney Crosby for his mammoth new deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sid the Kid remains arguably the best player on the planet and certainly earned his mega deal, worth $104.4 million over 12 years. If you’re keeping score, that’s an annual cap hit of $8.7m, matching his current cap hit. He also wears jersey #87, was born 8/7/87, has 8 dogs and 7 cats and his favourite bible passage is “And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.” Exodus 8:7.
JEERS to the three Stooges, er I mean, 3 GM’s who have their heads up their collective asses. Jeers to Islanders’ GM Garth Snow for offering EVERY 2012 draft pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Ryan Murary. Jeers to Blue Jackets’ GM Scott Howson for turning that down. And jeers to Jay Feaster for signing Dennis Wideman to a positively ridiculous 5-year, $26.25m contract. The other 27 general managers in the NHL must absolutely salivate whenever they get one of these three clowns on the phone to propose a deal.
CHEERS to Nail Yakupov for being totally awesome in his initial foray into Twitter. The Oilers 2012 first overall pick has been highly entertaining, engaging, funny, charming and flirty. Risk aside, we’re so much better off with our favourite players using social media in this manner, much like Roberto Luongo, Dustin Penner, Joffrey Lupul, and Ryan Whitney instead of being stifled by their teams’ suffocating PR departments.
Finally JEERS to all of us – fans, bloggers, media – who make player openness a difficult choice to make.
You want to know why hockey players so often have absolutely no personality in public or on Twitter? Well, it’s because we’re all so sensitive, and easily shocked. As Ellen Etchingham recently touched on, players risk being crucified if they say the wrong thing, tweet the wrong thing, or even if say or tweet something totally innocuous that fans and the media decide to blow out of proportion!
We’re guilty of this too, we weren’t too happy with the way the @VanCanucks Twitter feed and website handled the Bure announcement. Though at least we didn’t write up Joffrey Lupul’s DM exchange with an attractive, young fan like some newspapers we know! Brutal.
I’m curious to see what happens with the public’s reaction to the @LAKings Twitter feed now that the team is seen as a juggernaut defending champion, and not a lovable under-dog eighth seed. The Kings were great when they mocked playoff opponents this past Spring, it fit in with the club’s cheeky on-ice persona and helped the organization capitalize big time on their successful, dominant playoff run. But now that the team is "King of Shit Mountain" will fans begin to find their tweets grating? The early evidence suggests that they will.
Which is too bad and I really hope it doesn’t cause the Kings PR and social media team to alter the way they approach their communications style. I’d argue that if the Kings feed becomes bland again, it’ll be as a result of that same unthinking hockey fan notion: "oh, you can’t say that! Classless!" that results in players censoring themselves to the extent that they do.
There are certainly topics that you should avoid if you’re a pro-athlete and I’ll let Tim Thomas, Dan Ellis and Tom Sesito fill you in on that – but can we set some basic liberal ground rules as hockey fans? I’d suggest that we all agree to a) avoid getting moralistic about an athletes personal exploits and b) support quality trash talk in all of it’s many forms. If we can just do that, I promise to give you all a cheers next week!