#Tradecentre: Social media’s impact on the Toronto Maple Leafs

On Monday March 2, 2015 TSN aired a controversial tweet during the NHL trade deadline show. Every year, TSN has made attempts to establish a long and eventful day for sports fans as they cover an entire day of trades. Some years are more entertaining than others and this year appeared to be one of the less exciting, until the tweet aired. One avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan’s tweet, which began as a joke, quickly turned catastrophic.

AdragnaA21 tweet, “I want the leafs to keep lupul solely based upon the fact that he banged phaneufs wife #TradeCentre” aired across the country to millions of people. Almost immediately, AdragnaA21’s tweet caught the attention of Maple Leafs players Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf, as well as Phaneuf’s wife Elisha Cuthburt.

Law firms, Galle Legge Grant and Munroe LLP, issued a statement for Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul, “demanding that TSN issue a formal apology and pay a significant amount of damages to each of our clients for broadcasting a false and defamatory tweet during their trade deadline show yesterday”. They also sent a similar demand to the original author of the tweet Anthony Adragna.

James Duthie, a sportscaster for TSN, made this statement the following day: “In spite of TSN’s protocol to prevent unfounded and inappropriate tweets from making it to air, a false and inappropriate tweet was allowed to run. There was no basis for the false allegations made in this tweet and TSN unreservedly apologizes to Joffrey Lupul, to Dion Phaneuf, and Elisha Cuthbert and regrets any embarrassment this unfortunate incident has caused to them.”

Wilfrid Laurier University student and Maple Leafs fan, Matthew Lalingo, had a few words to say about these recent events. Lalingo thought the whole scenario “was dumb” and that it is “typical Toronto media trying to get something started and then they go too far.” It is quite clear that fans are more frustrated with the fact that there is so much coverage over this tweet. After this tweet several stories were written spreading and exploiting the embarrassing situation that Phaneuf, Lupul, and Cuthbert were facing because quite frankly, not much else happened during the trade deadline.

Lalingo explains that “you’ve got to censor yourself” in social media because the moral lines can be so easily crossed. “This is what happens in social media, you say one thing and it’s going to be traveling around.” He believes the fault is on TSN but people need to realize the damages of words and that “you need to censor yourself” because you don’t know who will see what you say.

Fans and professional players alike are clearly annoyed with the entire situation. As Lalingo says “Toronto sports have not been doing well … there is so much hype, and I think a lot of fans are disappointed.” The insulting tweet that made the air is obviously not the first or the last of tweets to attack the players in Toronto.

Lupul was unable to keep quiet on social media, as hecklers made an appearance on his Instgram. A user, york51, made offensive remarks and continued to antagonize the Leafs forward until Lupul lashed back. Lupul asked if they could “handle it like men and step outside.”

Ultimately, this conversation hit the newspapers as well, which left Lupul making himself look bad in the public eye. However, many fans are still in support for Lupul and his remarks against this heckler. One comment by itsdavit, said, “you’re all class pal, love your composure.”

The fan base has been spending so much time listening to professional hockey players fight legal and cyber battles, that they have forgotten about the sport. Despite being a team that has not even a glimpse of a playoff spot, a true fan should still be supportive. Lalingo is frustrated with the extent of the malicious tweets, and heckling responses because “it’s a distraction for [Lupul and Phaneuf]” as they try to go out every night and do their job.

Throughout the entire season the media and fans have been constantly disappointed with the Leafs.They started the season strong, but their hopes of reaching the playoffs has dwindled away. As the losses began to pile up and the Leafs fell drastically in the standings, the fans and media outlets began lashing out at the players.

The media has played a major role in the deterioration of the Leafs team year. Hyping up the Toronto Maple Leafs to the fans began to grow old as the Leafs started to struggle. Rumours of the players have been going around for quite some time, and the effects appeared to test many of the players’ frustrations. Phil Kessel, top-line forward, expressed his frustrations of all the hateful coverage and insults the media and fans have thrown on the Leafs, and mostly targeting the Captain, Dion Phaneuf.

Kessel stood up for Phaneuf in an interview: “I am disappointed today. The way the media treats Dion Phaneuf in this city it’s embarrassing.” Kessel expressed his frustrations to the media and described the fact that Phaneuf is the hardest working player on the team, and doesn’t get any respect for his hard work. Kessel repeated that he was “embarrassed” because Phaneuf is a person, and the media and Leafs fan base has focused on making him the joke of the city.

TSN decided to remove the Twitter ticker for any foreseeable future of the trade deadline. This is assures themselves as well as everyone else that the defamatory tweets will never see the air on their show again. As much as TSN’s protocol can try to draw a line of what is acceptable and what is not for television, according to Lalingo, when it comes to what people say on Twitter, “there is no line.”

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