Another day, another rejected proposal to end the 2012 NHL Lockout, another slew of tweets from partisans on both sides. While a number of current and former NHL players had strong words for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, it was retired NHL’er Jeff O’Neill who made the stupidest comment on the day.
Via his verified Twitter feed, O’Neill said the following:
And Bettman stop talking to the media. I wanna ‘make whole’ in your fkn head.
The comment prompted immediate condemnation and shortly after making it O’Neill deleted the tweet from his feed, replacing it with this comment:
My last tweet was inappropriate. Someone hacked my acct.
I’m not sure that O’Neill’s comments are at the same level as Chris Chelios’ in 1994 (see the video below) but they were foolish all the same.
Puck Daddy has a nice piece up on ‘the day in NHL players on Twitter’ but it did omit two of my favourite comments. First, from Michael Del Zotto, lamenting the lack of an agreement:
— Michael Del Zotto (@MichaelDelZotto) November 21, 2012
Better still was Brandon Prust’s response to a (seemingly since-deleted) tweet asking him sarcastically where he learned economics:
@bigbri1681 in university where I took economics
— Brandon Prust (@BrandonPrust8) November 21, 2012
From a PR standpoint, individual players and ex-players can be both the union’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. To cite one example, the work of Brad Richards and others to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims has shown the best side of the NHLPA membership – and a quick scroll through his Twitter feed shows how well he’s used social media to advance important projects. While not connected to the lockout negotiations, that work reflects well on both the individuals involved and on players as a group.
But then there are comments like O’Neill’s, which fairly or not will be lumped in with other examples of anti-Bettman rhetoric – such as Prust’s earlier comment that Gary Bettman’s autobiography would be entitled, “how I destroyed a sport and a nation.” At best, those comments come across as childish and make the players seem less sympathetic; at worst they could inject needless additional anger into lockout discussions.
Hopefully O’Neill’s clearly inappropriate comments will put the brakes on the latter sort of chatter, at least for a short time.
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