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Joffrey Lupul may not have entirely calmed down from Monday’s fuss.Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Upon further review, Dion Phaneuf, Elisha Cuthbert and Joffrey Lupul would like to see something positive spring from the Twitter firestorm that engulfed them this week. Something that will educate people about the perils of social media, according to their lawyer.

And then there are people like me who believe this will never happen until the person who started this particular contretemps with a defamatory tweet about the two Toronto Maple Leafs players and Phaneuf's wife and all the other Internet offenders are figuratively nailed to the legal cross.

If anything, the events on social media this week, from the Leafs tweet that exploded on TSN's NHL trade-deadline show to a similar controversy with the Chicago Blackhawks to the vile comments about Curt Schilling's daughter when the former baseball pitcher praised her on Twitter, show that people need to realize Twitter, Facebook, Instagram et al. are not private conversations between a few people but a public forum where they have a legal responsibility to make sure they do not libel anyone.

Journalists were bound by this obligation long before the Internet opened a worldwide forum to everyone with a keyboard or a smartphone. But too many bloggers, tweeters, citizen journalists or whatever else they like to be called are too slow to realize they now have the same responsibility.

You cannot casually repeat some scurrilous rumour making its way around the Web forums without opening yourself to legal action.

On Twitter, for example, one salacious remark can be retweeted and, as we saw with TSN's mistake on Monday, broadcast to hundreds of thousands of people. It does not matter if the tweeter has three followers. The potential is always there for a tweet to go viral.

This is where the lawyers rightly come in, but there have not been many people with either the resources or the persistence to deal with these people.

That might finally be changing. Peter Gall is the Vancouver lawyer who represents Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul in their threat to sue TSN and the author of the offending tweet. He also represents Calgary Flames president Brian Burke, who has already received five default judgments in his chase of a group of people who spread false allegations about his personal life in blogs and on social media.

Burke is still keen to hunt down the rest of the accused, which many of us in the media business applaud, but Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul are considering a different approach.

"[They] would like to do something and get involved in education for young people, particularly young women, about the perils of the Internet and how they can be preyed upon," Gall said. "What I would like, as we continue to talk to TSN, is to find a way that something positive could come out of this from an educational standpoint."

One thing did Wednesday when TSN announced it will no longer air public tweets on its live shows. Thank you for sparing us from the banality of most tweets.

Gall also plans to talk to the original tweeter, whom he says is a teenager in the Toronto area, "about a way you can make amends."

Lupul, though, may not have entirely calmed down from Monday's fuss. He understandably lost his temper on Instagram on Wednesday and offered to fight someone who made more vulgar remarks.

While TSN made a terrible mistake in allowing the offending tweet on the air, this did not result in any ratings damage in its trade-deadline coverage. It scored a big win over Sportsnet, as an average of 206,000 viewers watched its 10 hours of coverage from 8 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m., compared to just 76,000 for Sportsnet. The audience peaked at 491,000 at the NHL's 3 p.m. deadline and a total of 2.3 million viewers saw at least part of TSN's show compared to 1.1 million for Sportsnet. (TSN's parent company, BCE Inc., owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.).

Finally, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association officially announced Wednesday that Rogers Communications Inc., which operates Sportsnet, was awarded the Canadian broadcast rights for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, as reported in this space in January. The U.S. rights went to ESPN over NBC, the league's broadcast partner, which was a surprise since ESPN ignored the NHL after they parted company years ago.

"NBC was involved in the process but it became clear that, among other things, they had scheduling issues," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Translation: Gary, we'll show reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies before we broadcast hockey in prime time in September.

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