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Dan Ellis – Internet Troll?

If I have learned one thing this summer, it’s this: Dan Ellis and the Tampa Bay Lightning do not understand the Internet.

For the second time in almost as many weeks, the former Predator goalie stirred up controversy on Twitter with a string of less than eloquent tweets in which he complained about the potential of 24 percent of his salary being put into escrow.

Needless to say, his Twitter followers didn’t buy it. After Ellis sent off a series of tweets on Monday night stating that, “If you lost 18% of your income would you be happy? I can honestly say that I am more stressed about money now (than) when I was in college. I can’t explain it and I never thought it would be the case but it is true. (Money) in no way makes (you) more happy or makes life much easier. If you don’t make a lot of money, I don’t expect (you) to understand in the same way I could never understand what it is like to risk my life (d)aily as a fire fighter or police officer…especially not a soldier. There (are) pros and cons to every profession. (You are) kidding yourself (if you) think money makes things any easier,” Twitter blew up with posts of outrage in response.

While Ellis’ message was essentially, “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” a lot was lost in translation due to the fact that his little diatribe was written in 5 separate tweets. In particular, many Twitter users (I say “Twitter users” because the response appeared to ripple outside of hockey circles) latched onto the part where he said, “I can honestly say that I am more stressed about money now than when I was in college.” Several pointed out that he gets paid to stop a piece of rubber for a living (and others pointed out that as of last season, he was paid over a million dollars to basically have better seats at Predators games than anyone else).

After the first rash of reactions came his way, Ellis claimed that he was just waiting for the right moment to “stir the pot” and then told people not to take him seriously…which makes zero sense given the context. Instead of taking the high road at this point and realizing that Twitter isn’t exactly the best place to voice your opinions on labor disputes – especially if you aren’t able to articulate it well enough to make it sound as if you are not complaining about money – Ellis decided to go on the offensive…and this part is where the trouble started. Ellis threw out the always crowd-pleasing, “no one is holding a gun to your head,” followed by a post lamenting that he would only post about “boring things“…and proceeded to list the main themes of his Twitter feed when he’s not being Mr. Controversypants. Then, to show that he has absolutely no idea how this social media thing works, he claims that Twitter is just a place where you say stuff. Yes, Dan, that’s correct, but you’re forgetting about the part where people read it. Finally, when you thought it was dead, Ellis popped back up on Tuesday morning telling fans to “seek therapy” and to insult Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski for writing a story on Ellis’ latest Twitter foray.

The major problem wasn’t so much in what Ellis said (if it’s actually what he believes), but in how he responded to the criticism. To paraphrase Mike Birbiglia, what he should have said was nothing. What he did say, however, was that if you don’t agree with him, he’s going to insult you and let his 10,000 Twitter followers know that he thinks that you’re an idiot.

If the Tampa Bay Lightning had anything remotely resembling a public relations department, this never would have happened. Ellis already managed to rile up sports fans on Twitter a few weeks ago when he claimed that he deserved the millions he earned because – like a brain surgeonhe is a specialist. While that statement in and of itself might be a winnable argument, he started down the bad road with his next tweet, calling other professions “dime a dozen“. However, what really, really doomed him was when someone asked about people like Paris Hilton, and Ellis claimed that she was a specialist because she “expands her audience“…whatever that means. Then he went on the offensive, asking our own Codey Holland if a 5 year old wrote his tweets, while finally claiming the next day that he was just stirring the pot for fun.

Once Puck Daddy actually posted a story mentioning the original minicontroversy, alarms should have been ringing in the Tampa Bay front office. Every single person in their media and public relations department should have set up Ellis’ tweets as mobile alerts and someone should have called him about what one can and cannot post on the Internet when they are a public figure. Instead, nothing happened. Ellis was allowed to keep on tweeting, never even offering so much as a token semi-apology.

Instead of quashing it like a bug when the first little inkling of disagreement came along, the Tampa Bay front office appeared to say nothing. When Ellis started going on the offensive, the Tampa Bay front office should have said something. When Ellis told his fans to seek therapy, the Tampa Bay front office should have called his house, his wife’s house, his cell phone and every Starbucks in the tri-state area to get him to delete that tweet immediately. Instead, it’s still there.

Finally, Ellis offered a bit of an apology, admitting that he underestimated the power of Twitter, but it points to a larger problem. It shows that the Tampa Bay Lightning have absolutely zero control over what their players say in a public forum. Should the league take notice, it could not only mean sanctions for Ellis, but it could mean that players are forbidden (or severely limited) from using social media without having prior approval, which would be a huge step backwards for a league that many think takes a few too many of those already.

16 Comments

  1. Charlie J.

    September 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Just to make me laugh about him being a specialist, I’m thinking about finding some of his greatest goals allowed and title them “specialist”. What do you think Lidstrom’s playoff clincher, Datsyuk’s goal last year, is next to last start vs San Jose.

    He can say whatever he wants but unfortunately for him, he’s easily replaced in this league. I’d bet money he doesn’t get the last laugh and all of his new found fans will turn on him at the drop of a hat.

  2. R.J.

    September 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    This is just a sad, sad saga in general. Just goes to show how the internet makes some people come across as total jerks.

  3. Jason Castleman

    September 7, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    At what point did Dan Ellis sign up to have his freedom of speech taken away and who appointed you and the rest of the holier than thou, self entitled sports fans to be the ones who decide what he can and can’t say?

    Just because Dan Ellis is a NHL player doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be able to have his own opinions and say them in whatever forum he wants, even if they’re not popular ones. He has the same right to be a jerk on twitter as everybody else does. If he wants to spend his time arguing with idiots, he has that right. It’s not up to you, Codey or the Lightning to decide what is OK or NOT OK for Dan Ellis to think and say. And it’s not up to you to decide that Dan Ellis should apologize for being honest. I applaud Ellis for being so outspoken, even though I don’t agree with him, because in this politically correct, tattle tell society we live in, hearing an athlete speak open and honestly is a rarity.

    The sad thing is, most of the people who are complaining about Dan Ellis are the same people who look at Muhammad Ali as being some sort of Saintly figure. Yet if Muhammad Ali came out today you’d all scream for him to be silenced and banned from boxing.

    • Patten Fuqua

      September 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm

      Tell that to Sean Avery.

    • Link

      September 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm

      You truly do not get it

  4. Brenda

    September 7, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Tampa Bay front office obviously never caught the “Regular Season Ticket Holder” who said although deeply upset they were going to try and get some rest and first thing in the morning was going to cancel their Seasons tickets; and Front Office could take it out of Ellis’ Paycheck.

  5. Lori

    September 7, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    This has blown way out of proportion. All he was trying to say was that just because you have money doesn’t mean you don’t worry about it. He’s right too. It’s his personal twitter so let him say what he wants. This whole thing is really stupid and middle-school-like behavior by the critics.

  6. jb

    September 8, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I could not agree with Jason Castleman more……its HILARIOUS that you guys at 303 think you are some sort of big deal, and you are so butt-hurt over this.

    Get a life, and stop crying because Ellis put you in your place. When he was with the Preds all of you would have done anything to carry his jock, no reason to hate the guy because he moved on.

    • Patten Fuqua

      September 8, 2010 at 7:20 am

      Did you actually bother to read anything past the title of the column?

      “Stop crying because Ellis put you in your place”…? That makes zero sense whatsoever. When did Dan Ellis put me in my place or have any interaction with me whatsoever?

  7. Kip

    September 8, 2010 at 7:12 am

    To assert this is a PR failure on Tampa Bay’s fault, wouldn’t you have to prove Nashville had poeple following his tweets? He never had problems in Nashville so I think this is either a Tampa Bay PR failure -OR- Dan Ellis’s sole fault. I tend to think it is Dan Ellis. The Lightning PR guys could have told him to shut up but they are really helpless barring threats at his job and three days isn’t long enough to find out the decision (or lack thereof – which would be a decision to nothing) of the Lightning.

    Dan Ellis gave away his freedom of speech when he decided to pursue a profession that turns him into a role model for little kids. Whether he likes it or not, the reason he gets paid so much isn’t his skill – it’s a money-in money-out situation; purely economical. Hockey generates income for owners who pay players to create a game that people (and kids) pay money to watch. Because the owners target us to create income, their employees (players) have to accept the position their employers put them in – which is being a role model for a kid. It is part of the job description. There is a reason they go through PR training as rookies. Dan Ellis will be cut as soon as he becomes an economic liability – like Pacman Jones in football.

    I agreed that it is blown out of proportion and it was all handled poorly.

    • Patten Fuqua

      September 8, 2010 at 7:22 am

      Actually, Ellis and Sullivan got in trouble with the Preds last year for calling each other gay on Twitter.

  8. Amanda

    September 8, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Ok, so let me get this straigh. Dan Ellis is afforded freedom of speech and can’t be criticized, but Patten isn’t? It’s totally cool to wring him through the mud? Hmm….

  9. Amanda

    September 8, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Also, read the Constitution. Your right to free speech is a protection you have from government interference. There is no such thing as free speech at work. Just sayin’

  10. @FearTheFangs

    September 8, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I understand what Dan was trying to say initially… hockey players’ careers are short. They have to manage their money in such a way that it lasts them the rest of their lives. When you have agents, escrow, the league etc writing your paycheck, you really have to keep an eye on things. When you make a lot, there is the potential to lose a lot.

    That led to the second issue of who deserves to make a lot, etc etc… and all the jealousy and misguided social justice BS that goes with it. A whole other topic Dan probably didn’t mean to get into.

    Overall, I think its great for the sport that Dan and others are tweeting so much, but maybe money should be off limits for discussion… nothing but trouble going there.

    • Codey Holland

      September 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

      I think what threw people in a rage, was that he just tweeted about his new Jag with the rims and tint job. Don’t buy pretty toys, then cry about escrow.

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