St. Louis Blues winger David Perron, from Sherbrooke, Que., has become a popular figure on the micro-blogging service Twitter this season. He took some time out to chat with The Globe and Mail about why he's on Twitter and what it's been like interacting with fans the past few months:
What do you think of Twitter and chatting with fans so far this season?
Perron: It's great for players to see the real fans and give a regular person the chance to see what you might be up to. They feel connected to you, they feel a part of it, I think it's great.
I remember just being a fan of the game, when you're not playing in the NHL, and wondering what players are like and why they do some of the stuff they do. I like to talk about equipment with a lot of people and answer any questions out there.
Was your agent, Allan Walsh, the one who got you started on Twitter? Had you heard of it before?
Perron: I kept hearing about it and during the summer, Allan talked to me about it. It kind of stayed there [in the back of my mind]and one night I just decided to start one. I think after a day or so I had 1,000 followers so it was pretty amazing. The media around St. Louis were helping me a lot, getting followers, saying I was on it, and it's kind of cool I think, like I said, for the fans to see what's going on in my life and stuff like that.
There's a couple other guys on the Blues using Twitter (Alex Steen and Brad Winchester) - did you get them started on that?
Perron: I don't know if I did or whatever. Guys started to ask me some questions and I know we've got Alex and Brad on it now. Anyway we can help the game of hockey to get bigger and bigger, I'm going to do it.
Why were you getting questions? Have you been getting attention because of Twitter?
Perron: I just asked a few guys around the room if they were doing it. I know there were a few fake accounts for me and T.J. Oshie and others and I asked those guys if they were on it and they said no. So the guys started asking questions and, I don't know, I think the guys appreciate the fact that fans want to know what's going on and they wanted to be part of what I was doing.
Are you a techie kind of guy, are you into computers and the internet in a big way?
Perron: A little. I mean, on off days I'll be on the computer just watching movies and stuff like that.
Some of the stuff I do on there, I'll just say [on Twitter]at, say 4 o'clock, I'll just say "start asking questions," and around 6, I'll start answering the ones I've got. It's amazing - the first time I did it, I got over 150 questions. The second time I got 250. I couldn't believe it. Obviously I can't answer all of them, but I'll answer 25 or 30. I think it's great.
It's pretty cool - a mom will ask me "what would be your best advice for a 10-year-old playing hockey?" I think it goes beyond hockey - it's hockey and, like every sport, it can be related to just general life. It's great for everybody.
You must get some weird questions, though. What's an example of a crazy question from a fan?
Perron: If you tell me you won't write it... (laughs)
Okay, okay. But you must get asked out on dates and all kinds of bananas stuff by doing this, right?
Perron: Like you wouldn't believe.
Like everything you do, there's always going to be people trying to abuse it. I got some questions about my coach, and how much this and that - I mean it's something you can't answer obviously. And I don't know if they expect me to answer it. But maybe they just want me to laugh about it or whatever. There's all kinds of people asking different questions.
No dates then?
Perron: Well, yeah. Of course it's going to happen. There's nothing you can do about it, just deal with it the right way and be careful. Allan and I talk about it all the time, being careful in what I write on there, and just deal with it that way.
How often do you do the Q&As?
Perron: I think I've done one every two weeks. I just got it two months ago, not even. I'm planning on doing it every once in a while, when I get free time, maybe one pretty soon. I haven't been on there for a week now and so when I went on yesterday after a game a lot of the fans are wondering "Where are you? Where are you?" and stuff like that. It's kind of cool because fans keep watching your page and they want to know what's going on.
I remember back in October, when everyone was wearing pink to promote [breast cancer awareness] I started using a pink knob [on my stick] and I just wrote that on there, and a lot of people were like, that's amazing. They love stuff like that and it's something that makes us players want to do it even more.
Have the Blues talked to you about Twitter and have they said anything about you doing it?
Perron: I talk with Mike Caruso, our PR guy, and obviously he's following very closely what's going on on there and he wants to know who's on Twitter or Facebook or whatever just to make sure we're really smart about what we're writing. He told me, "everything you write, I'm going to read it so just be careful, but other than that, enjoy it and have fun with it."
Do you follow other athletes on Twitter? I know there are a lot of basketball players - Shaq's on there and he's got like two million followers - some of the other athletes are huge. Do you pay attention to what they're doing at all?
Perron: Not really. I'm just friends with Martin Havlat of the Wild. I know him a little bit and I know [his account]is real. Sometimes you have to be careful even with those certified accounts... I don't follow many athletes, I just do my own stuff.
Shaq does all sorts of crazy things, playing hide and seek with fans and giving away tickets. It's pretty interesting where this is going.
Perron: That's what it's all about. I'm sure fans really, really love that. I'm not even close to up to that many followers, but it's something that, in the future, you never know where you're going to be and I'm sure it's a fun thing to do.
Do you think more NHLers should be using Twitter? There aren't that many players on there right now compared to other sports.
Perron: If you feel you should do it, do it, but if you don't want to, you don't have to. It's a personal decision and you don't want guys on there that don't want to be on there. I'm sure there's going to be a lot more in the next few months and years. It's something that, I don't know really how to say it, but we're aware of the fans that are out there and we want to help the game of hockey get bigger and bigger and this is one way. If the fans feel connected to a player, they're going to want to come to games more often, watch hockey more and say 'I'm friends with him on Twitter' and stuff like that. It's a small thing that I can do to help the game of hockey.