HOLD THE PHONE: YOU’RE TRADED

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."

FIRST IS FOREMOST

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.