Players Connect with Fans, Twitter Awards Ensue


Approachable yet unattainable: a concept that keeps fans on their toes far past the game of hockey (or any sport for that matter) when it comes to their favorite athletes.  Photo op’s, autograph signings, public appearances, etcetera, are all created by publicists and the marketing departments of major league sports alike as they keep the fans (and their money) multiplying season after season.  These opportunities are always unique to fans as they allow them to get up close and personal with their heroes in the flesh, which is a constant treat.

What does however set hockey, or more specifically the Tampa Bay Lightning, out from the rest is the players themselves and their surprising willingness if not actual want to interact with their fans.  Sure, every team in every sport has at least that one guy who really tries to make an effort to be an all-star in the community that they play in because they like to, not because their franchise is demanding that they do so.  But the majority of the Lightning gentlemen seem take ‘All In’ to heart as they go out of their way to repay the fans personally for the support they’ve selflessly given to propel players career into super star status in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.  Whether it’s a friendly hello in passing or a player is actually on time to one of said publicity op’s, our lovely Lightning are more than often willing to take a quick photo or step beyond their public obligations.  Maybe the Lightning players are different from other Tampa Bay athletes because they’re consistently isolated by fans during their games.  It’s just a theory, but unlike players similar to Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays who can run over and sign a few balls no sweat before a game starts, hockey players feel the need to compensate for that slight disconnect.  Trust me, I’ve been to plenty of autograph signings for athletes and musicians, but in my experience the Lightning are least likely to keep their fans waiting and don’t mind standing up in the least to wrap their arms around a fan for a cute photo that’s bound to end up on someone’s Christmas card.

And now I would like to officially welcome you all to the complete Twitter revolution, more than just the Twitter boom that got Steven Stamkos and Vincent Leavalier on board.  In the last hockey season we have witnessed an influx of some of our favorite bolts arriving on the Twitter season who are more than happy to share some intimate details of their lives or even chat up a fan or too.  Each player offers us the fans an exclusive digital connection to their everyday life.  Although some of the guys might not be too keen on filling us in on such tedious information (like what they ate for breakfast) most of them genuinely put their best skate forward when it comes to nurturing their Twitter accounts.  Sure, I can’t promise each account is ran by the boys in blue themselves (I have suspicions Stammer might not be the only one typing run of the mill updates from time to time) but for the most part I’d truly like to applaud them on their ‘technological advances’ for the good of their fans.  I can guarantee you, a Twitter account is not in their contracts.

Without further ado I’d like to present you with Liberty’s 2012 Tampa Bay Lightning Twitter awards!

(If any of the winners are reading this, yes I will make trophies upon request.)

Most likely to attend Twitter rehab: @Commie22

…somethings are better left to texting or direct message’s.  While I applaud him for his avid Twitter updates, toning it down might be beneficial– athletes have stalkers.

Funniest updates: @TeddyPurcell16

I hope he never stops tweeting.

Most foreign: @Heds77

Wishing I spoke Swedish right now (like every time I see his tweets), however there’s always Google Translate…

Most sincere: @NateThompson44

Thompson’s basically a Twitter alumni by now, he updates when he wants and doesn’t seem forced.  It’s much appreciated.

Best Twitter comeback: @S9Downie

Although no longer a bolt (insert frownie face here) Downie was at the time of this tweet.  I was walking home one day when I saw this and doubled over laughing… on the sidewalk… on the side of a busy road… anyway, lesson learned: don’t mess with Downie.

Ps. Please come back to the Twitter world!!!!

Honorable mention:

@Bruno_Gervais27, a close second for most foreign and informative, timely updates.  Just needs watch his spam… weight loss tweets, really?

@KAulie59, his bio says “Fishing and country music,” can’t be a bad guy.  He tweets a lot, I approve.

@BConnolly8, again he tweets a lot, which is good compared to those who severely neglect their Twitters.  But his tweets are often fairly informative, a ton of good hockey information.