If you want to know what your favourite NHL player is thinking on the day of a big game, you’ll have to get it the old-fashioned way – from the mainstream media.
The NHL now has an official policy on social media that instituted a blackout for players from two hours before game-time to the finish of their media interviews following the game. The blackout extends to team personnel as well, and they are banned from tweeting from 11 a.m. on game days through the post-game interviews.
Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes, the NHL’s leading tweeter among the players, told his 132,000 followers he approves of the policy, which went into effect Thursday.
“People asking about NHL’s new policy on Twitter. I think it’s good,” Bissonnette, who tweets as BizNasty2point0, posted on Twitter. “I don’t even play much and I don’t tweet on game days. Plenty of off days.”
The policy was developed through negotiations with the NHL Players’ Association and holds players accountable for their comments through social media in the same way they are held responsible for any public statement. They can be disciplined if the league feels a statement damages the league, one of its teams or the game of hockey.
Not surprisingly, criticizing the game officials is also out of bounds. However, the NHL’s referees and linesmen are not allowed to use any social media.
“The policy is sensible,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on the league’s web site, NHL.com. “It lets our players and clubs participate substantially in the opportunity of social networking while identifying and mitigating some of the risks. To date, our players and clubs have been exemplary in connecting with fans on social networks, and fans should not expect to see any material difference as a result of this policy.”
One of the NHL’s most prominent player agents, and an active user of Twitter, does not think the new policy will change the tweeting habits of players. “Don’t know of a situation where player tweeted [within two hours]of game,” Allan Walsh posted on Twitter.
New York Islander forward Michael Grabner, whose tweets are far more typical of NHL players than the free-spirited Bissonnette, also doesn’t think the policy will change much.
He tweeted, “Heard there will be a social media policy in the NHL..good thing most [of]my tweets are about food, napping or video games,” and added the hash tag #dontwanttotbefined.