NHL making waves and winning fans over through social media

GYI0060850489-dustinbrown-harryhow-getty.jpgThe relationship between players and fans has always been one of a curious nature. Back in the day, the only way fans could interact with players was either from their seat at a game and yelling to/at them or waiting for them after the game to grab an autograph. The times, they are a-changing. With fans and players all being connected online thanks to social media like Twitter and Facebook, players are able to better reach out to the fans. Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times discusses how social media is changing the landscape in the NHL.

Including Kings captain Dustin Brown, who began tweeting in August, and Ducks winger Bobby Ryan, who hit the Twitterverse in July, more than 40 players are Twitter users. That estimate came from Michael DiLorenzo, the NHL’s director of social media marketing and strategy. He added that fewer than 40 players also use Facebook or have fan pages on Facebook.

Most players’ Twitter messages are funny: Ryan gets impatient in California traffic and Brown, watching Saturday morning TV with his kids, wondered what happened to all the good cartoons. Both needle teammates and talk about workouts and dinner plans, not revelations but information that gives them distinct personalities and builds rapport with fans.

Along with trivial uses come some noble uses. Brown’s tweets about building a playground in Carson triggered offers of help from fans. Player agent Allan Walsh, a pioneer in getting players involved with Twitter and Facebook, spread word that former Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak would sign autographs for charity at a Montreal shopping center this weekend. Brown’s agent, Scott Norton, started a program in which his clients will perform a good deed every Monday and tweet about it in hopes of inspiring similar acts. That can’t be bad.

Obviously if you’re here reading this on our site, you’re dialed into the Internet pretty well and you’re only a few clicks away from being able to get dialed into the players and their agents and virtually everyone else involved in the NHL in some way on Twitter or Facebook. Agents like Scott Norton and Allan Walsh provide great client-centric news and information and the players themselves have turned into a real joy to follow and engage with themselves (consider my guilty pleasure to be Paul Bissonette of the Phoenix Coyotes).

Considering one of the complaints some fans have against NHL players is that they’re “bland” personalities, reaching out through social media is helping to dispel that notion. Granted not everyone will be as colorful as Bissonette or even Bobby Ryan or Danny Richmond but it’s something else to have that sort of inside access to people in the league and that’s a good thing.

(Photo: Harry How – Getty Images)

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    Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

    Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

    With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

    It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

    Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

    The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

    Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

    If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

    Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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    Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

    An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

    After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

    You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

    Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

    Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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    Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

    Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

    Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

    Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

    Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

    An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

    Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

    Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

    Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

    “It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

    Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

    People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.