Unless this is the first time you’ve set your eyes on a screen all day, you know that Steven Stamkos made the hockey world come undone after he favourited a tweet about him joining the Leafs in the summer.
It’s not quite trade rumour season just yet; that usually comes after the new year in the countdown to the trade deadline. That being said, this Stamkos stuff set off a chain reaction featuring a few of the things that always seem to lead to trade rumours and mass hysteria.
Beware of the following things over the next few months:
SOCIAL MEDIA STRETCHING
Stamkos found himself as the story of the day after he “accidentally” liked a tweet about him coming to Toronto. I’ve clicked like by accident before but that’s one heck of a coincidence. I have no other choice but to assume he is going to sign with the Leafs in the summer to take over as the team’s new captain, leading scorer, and assistant goalie coach.
This happens all the time. People read way too much into what they see on social media. For example, last season people started noticing Joffrey Lupul would click favourite on the tweets that were the most mean to him. That must mean he’s tired of Toronto and wants out, right?
Maybe the best example of this was the day everyone lost their mind thinking that Jonathan Bernier and his wife Martine Forget had hinted that Bernier’s Leafs days were over through a passive-aggressive message on their 10-month-old son’s onesie. If you said that out loud and started whistling, it could be an episode of the X-Files.
Whoever Stamkos decides to sign with, even if it’s back with the Lightning, the contract is likely going to be over half a decade long and pay him enough money to buy an island in Dubai that’s shaped like his face. Something tells me there will be more to the Stamkos saga than “He liked a tweet once.”
YOUR FRIEND WHO HAS A NEIGHBOUR
This comes out most during the holiday season, so be careful. You’ve been busy with work or you’ve been away for school so it’s time to catch up with your friends. You start talking, you chat about your lives, and eventually sports comes up. Naturally you talk about the story of the day – today it’s Steven Stamkos – when all of a sudden your buddy turns into a private eye.
“You know, I know someone who has a neighbour who plays in the NHL. They told me Stamkos is totally coming to Toronto. It’s gonna happen, I’m telling you.”
Everybody I know claims to know somebody who has a neighbour who plays in the NHL. I’m not saying some of them are lying, I’m just saying that it’s a little strange how many people from Scarborough are best friends with Wayne Simmonds. Or how everybody in Pickering taught Andy Andreoff how to skate. Or how the entire population of Ajax got to fly on a private jet to see Devin Shore’s NHL debut in November. Or how everybody in Whitby plays in a beach volleyball league with James Neal in the summer. Did you know Andrew Shaw is actually the Deputy Mayor of Belleville?
This is Canada, and for Stamkos it’s even worse, because it’s Ontario. Every single citizen knows a player, former player, coach, agent, GM, or a guy who won $5 by beating Brian Burke in an arm-wrestling match. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they know somebody who lives next door to Bobby Orr. Really? I know he’s Bobby Orr, but how many houses does this guy have?
The point is that if your friend told you this then they’ve told everybody. Pretty soon a whole bunch of people are talking about it, folks start calling in to radio shows and tweeting it to bloggers and TV hosts, and all of a sudden #MalkinForBobbyFarnham is trending.
Bake extra cookies for your friends to stuff their face with so they don’t talk as much. Problem solved.
FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNTS
Being an insider takes years of dedication. Forget the writing or schooling involved, just imagine the time it takes to build up a rolodex of people in the league, people in the know, people you know for certain you can trust because if you report something that’s wrong your name is mud. You spend years, decades, cultivating relationships and try to make sure you can report stories without ticking too many people off and burning bridges. Not to mention you have to figure out how to keep your sources a secret. All the while dozens of competitors are trying to do the same thing and beat you to it.
Starting a fake account takes approximately 45 seconds.
People who use fake Twitter accounts to report fake stories, particularly around the trade deadline, remind me of a fart: You caught everybody’s attention for a moment, some laughed, some frowned, and after a few fleeting seconds nobody cared. You have less than half the comedic value of a Bazooka Joe comic without the payoff of gum.
It’s not even that hard to make up a believable trade. All you have to do is include a second round pick. Off the top of your head, how many players in this league could realistically be dealt for a second-rounder? Pretty much half the league. P.A. Parenteau? I’d believe it. Teddy Purcell? Sure. Cody Franson? I didn’t even know he was available!
Sports fans should beware of fake accounts and fake account makers should beware of lonely, lonely lives.
Now, I can’t guarantee your safety from ridiculous rumours and hockey trade hysteria. I’m simply trying to help you be better prepared for the road ahead. I trust that you’re smart, but there are a lot of challenges out there in this crazy hockey world you may not know about.
Now you know.