Not so long ago, players around the NHL used to keep one eye on the phone as the trade deadline approached. They still do, but players in for a change of address are just as likely to find out about it by way of social media as they are in a phone call from the boss.

If Ales Hemsky is traded by the Edmonton Oilers between now and the deadline Feb. 27, will he find out from Steve Tambellini or is he as likely to get the news via Twitter in 140 characters or less from somebody like Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie or Nick Kypreos? Maybe @FakeOilersGM?

General managers have to be increasingly quick on the draw to get the word out before somebody with an inside source Tweets the news. Chances are, by the time a player gets a tap on the shoulder, "Tamby wants to see you," he knows what the conversation is going to be about.

In 2012, Twitter is the information gateway of choice. Players, agents, scouts, general managers and reporters who aren’t connected to the network don’t stand a chance of staying ahead of the game.

"U are going 2 CBus. LOL."


For example, when Mike Cammalleri was traded by the Montreal Canadiens to the Calgary Flames for Rene Bourque, the deal was all over Twitter long before there was any official word of the transaction.

At times in years past, players have found out they were traded by way of television or radio reports generated by plugged-in reporters or sources, but it’s reached a whole new level. While many of the same people are breaking the news, they’re thumb-typing like crazy and doing it in seconds rather than minutes or hours.

"There’s so many people on Twitter," said Ryan Whitney, who goes by @ryanwhitney6 on Twitter. "Look at the Cammalleri trade. That was Twitter and that was the middle of the season. On the deadline, it’s going to be Twitter for sure.

"Even guys who don’t tweet, they all have Twitter on their phone. Every guy in this room who doesn’t actually tweet, they still have Twitter and they’re following McKenzie and all those guys. You just update your phone and, ‘Oh, I’ve been traded.’ I hope I never find out like that."

Whitney, traded by Pittsburgh to Anaheim and by the Ducks to the Oilers, got the news the old-fashioned way — phone calls from GMs — and is unlikely to "find out like that" in the next 12 days, but there will be a lot of sets of eyes in the Oilers dressing room on Twitter between now and then.

If you’re a fan looking to stay in the know between now and the deadline, here’s some of the hockey people (their number of followers as of 9:30 a.m. today are listed) you should be keeping tabs on:

Bob McKenzie of TSN (294,011) @TSNBobMcKenzie

Darren Dreger of TSN (229,240) @DarrenDreger

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet (78,310) @RealKyper

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN ((106,160) @Real_ ESPNLeBrun

Jim Matheson of Edmonton Journal (11,068) @NHLbyMatty

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • OilKing,

    To answer your question, I use to think Twitter was stupid because when the whole Social Media thing went Batsh@t crazy back 5-6 years ago, I tried all the types of media. People were telling me Twitter was all the rage, so I tried it. I realized I did not care to follow the Shaquille O`Neal`s, who tweeted about what they ate for breakfast, and how big their last bowel movement was.

    However to me, it seems to me that how Twitter has changed from when I first used it. Its kinda like when you try out a resteraunt and your experience at it did not have you coming back. Then three years later someone convinces you to try it again, and its the bomb. I guess it was just first imopressions.

    I see a point in it now, because there are guys like MacKenzie, Ferrero, Gregor, Brownlee whos opinion on a certain deal is usually well worded, well thought out, and pure gold. Its nice knowing about something right away rather then hearing it two hours late.

    Anyways, I hope this what you were looking for. I am curious as to the relevence to Manitoba Insurance is. I am a small business owner, so your take might have some value and merit to me. Thanks

  • Mitch

    Robin what I like about twitter is guys like you or hockey guys like Bob Mackenzie, when something is posted that is breaking it’s not a shot in the dark it the real deal, as a fan we couldn’t ask for more.

    • Again, thanks for the mention, but I really have to reiterate there’s a world of difference between McKenzie, Dreger, the guys I’ve listed and what I did when I was fully entrenched in the MSM.

      McKenzie and Dreger are so connected to GMs and agents and hockey ops people around the NHL it’s scary. All teams. Even when I was on the beat, my contacts didn’t come close to spanning the league like theirs do. My job was to know anything and everything about the Oilers. They were the focus of the stories I broke and the trades I called, and I called a lot of them, but nothing on the scale of these two.

      I enjoyed that part of the gig most — deadline time, governors meetings and the Entry Draft — and wish I could have done it full-time, without having to worry about writing gamers, advances, sidebars and all the stuff that goes with travelling and documenting the day-to-day stuff as the beat guy.

      I’m a freelance guy now, not a salaried guy with any MSM outlet, so I’m not spending countless hours on the phone and in the rink like I used to. That’s where you get your stuff first-hand.

      Like I said earlier, a lot of people in the business these days are simply repeating info uncovered by a handful of real insiders who have access and contact with the decision-makers. They’re posing by piggy-backing onto someone else’s work. If you back-track through all the re-tweets and guesswork you’ll arrive back at the same small group of people in the know.