Dan Ellis – Internet Troll?
- Updated: September 7, 2010
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 surgeon – he 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.