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Ellis’ Twitter Tiff is Simply a Sign of the Times

This is not a story.

Alas, I’ve been forced to write something on the matter because there’s no shortage of lunacy out there right now.

What’s been made of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis’ recent Twit-roversy is shameful.

How far it’s gone is embarrassing.

And, really, it’s much ado about nothing but, in an effort to talk some sense into the masses, here goes nothing:

The guy used a public forum to express an opinion and, in doing so, he pissed a bunch of people right the hell off.

So what? Happens all the time, right?

With tens of thousands of followers, Ellis’ rant about NHL salary escrow and the “hardships” of being a multi-million dollar athlete reached a widespread audience no different than if he had stood behind a microphone outside the St. Pete Times Forum with a similar audience of in-person onlookers so, yeah, he probably should have been more sensitive to the plights of (and more cognizant of the existence of) those “in attendance” on less stabile financial ground.

But he wasn’t, people reacted emotionally and he apologized, which is where it all should have ended, probably.

It seems, instead, that those offended persisted with their backlash and Ellis continued to defend himself and talk folks down from the ledge.

Yahoo! Sports’ Greg Wyshynski took Ellis to task at Puck Daddy and was later berated by the goalie himself for having to resort to Twitter as a source of news. (We can assume that both player and organization didn’t care much for Wysh’s “elitist jackass” description of the web persona Ellis’ comments had created. We can also hope all parties involved remember the kind of mud-slinging far worse that happens on the web and in print throughout the NHL season, for varying reasons.)

Ellis “Drastically underestimated the power of Twitter,” he posted and, later, quit the social media giant altogether.

And the snowball continued rolling downhill thereafter.

Wyshynski was criticized by fellow tweeters for escalating the situation (a.k.a., running a story and offering an opinion on the situation) and the Twitter trend #danellisproblems was then joined by #wyshynskisfault, with both good for some much-needed levity as the topic continued to be discussed for a fourth straight day.

Tampa beat writers and hockey scribes elsewhere have since chimed in and, well, molehill? Meet mountain.

This should have been stopped long ago.

Nevertheless, in a world where people tune in on a weekly basis to watch pseudo-celebrities attempt to earn “jobs” with Donald Trump, learn a few dance moves and… (Hell, I don’t know… Whatever else happens in those shows…) Point is, of course this was going to get all kinds of attention!

The “power” of Twitter is fictional - at least in comparison to the power of the individual. Those that didn’t like what Ellis had to say had every right to fire back as many did. They also have every right to pay him no mind whatsoever (‘unfollow”, that is, in the Twitter world). And those that didn’t care for Wyshynski’s coverage of the ongoing saga could certainly have left that alone as well.

But they didn’t. Of course they wouldn’t. This is the Internet Era, where everyone’s a critic and, worse, many think they’re untouchable, blasting away at anyone and everyone who puts forth an opinion.

How many of these people would have shot back at Ellis, had my in-person comparison been the medium for his message? Some, sure, but not many, I’d guess. And Ellis himself surely would have left those quips out of any such address to a gathering of fans in that situation as well, if only because he’d know what his words might do with so many eyes staring right back into his.

As the long-standing, unwritten rule in the hospitality industry goes, “No religion or politics at the bar.” Applying that to athletes interacting on the web should probably include, “No finance discussions with the commoners” as well. I don’t have any interest in juxtaposing the money difficulties that a professional hockey player experiences with complaints about the 10% escrow that comes out of the measly paychecks from my full-time line of work, despite considering myself a specialist in that particular field. (See that, Dan? “The Man” gets after little old me too!)

And since we’re tossing a few rules around here, let us remember that the best way to express your disdain for something a potentially Scarlet B-donning “blogger” has written is to ignore it completely. (It’s our industry’s Kryptonite, kids. And I gave it to you just like that - cause you won’t stay away. You can’t. You’re a web-head, like it or not.)

But none of this will ever happen because it’s just the way we are now, sad as that may be.

It’s a poor reflection of society, really.

It’s a subject that should have died yesterday.

And, above all else, it is not a story.

Hurry the hell up, hockey season. We all need you.

JJ on Twitter
The Bolts Beat podcast archive

Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL Media, Hockey Bloggers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dan+ellis, greg+wyshynski, puck+daddy, twitter


petshark's avatar

I’m not sure of bar etiquette but I think there are 3 dinner party no-nos: religion, politics, and money.  Doesn’t matter if you have a lot or a little, it’s fingernails on the chalk board in mixed company.
But it is sort of a story, just not the one folks have been running.  Some teams seem to have policies preventing their players from engaging in any or most social media activity.  How does this relatively benign fuss influence those policies?  Does it validate them?  Does the volume of the fuss suggest that it is worth reconsidering?  Is it true that “any publicity is good publicity?”  I am curious about that.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 09/09/10 at 08:22 PM ET

Primis's avatar

JJ, whole-heartedly disagree.

Ellis is a pro athlete, and therefore a public figure.  Not everything with fame is all roses.  When you shoot your moth off as a public figure, you pay the price for it.

He deserves any criticism he gets.  He’s the one that went public first…

Posted by Primis on 09/09/10 at 10:33 PM ET

Alan's avatar

If you don’t know what escrow is and what it’s there for, perhaps you are better off leaving the topic well enough alone.

That’s all I’m going to say on that.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 09/10/10 at 03:01 AM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

petshark - The Lightning, to this point, have been one of the most progressive clubs regarding social media, taking full advantage of reaching their fans via Facebook and Twitter. I know that Dan Ellis being involved on Twitter coming into the organization was look at in nothing but a positive light. As I actually tweeted yesterday, when reached for comment on this fiasco, a club official declined, though I got the sense that there wasn’t much concern from the team about the events that transpired. Since Ellis has now closed his Twitter account, perhaps something changed. Probably not, though, as my gut is he did so with very little nudging from the team (if any at all).

Primis, I don’t necessarily disagree with you. Like I said, anyone offended by his remarks has every right to express as much to him, as many did. And I clearly stated that he should have been more respectful and sensitive of the general public before saying what he said. My point remains that this whole ordeal is overblown and it got exacerbated by people criticizing Wysh for what he wrote and people not leaving it alone after Ellis apologized and Ellis himself caving under pressure and quitting, rather than standing behind his words, even if those words were irresponsible and/or misplaced. A big shame, shame on everyone, really.

And, Alan, I assume you are wondering about Ellis’ understanding of escrow? (Others have been publicly curious about his level of knowledge of the CBA since his comments.) Because I certainly understand escrow, particularly as it pertains to my situation, which isn’t actually any big deal at all since the primary reason for 10% of my salary going to escrow is to ensure what are called “equalized paychecks” for what can sometimes be an irregular work schedule in my other field.

Thanks for reading.


Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 09/10/10 at 08:25 AM ET

petshark's avatar

Thanks, JJ.  Now if only more teams would be so progressive, though I can’t imagine why any pro athlete would want to expose themselves to all this.  Yuck!  I guess every medium has its growing pangs.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 09/10/10 at 11:25 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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