There’s something innately ingrained in being a hockey fan that makes us predisposed to excitement, when it comes to trades. I can’t place my finger on what it is, exactly. I’ve found that in many cases, it doesn’t even have to include my favorite team. The simple possibility of player mobility gets my blood going and my gears grinding. As such, the advent of Twitter and other social media outlets has dawned something of a new day upon us. Information is more readily and abundantly available than ever before, and everyone has a platform to dispense their thoughts and opinions on any and every matter.
So how does one muck through all of the rumors out there, and more importantly, decide what’s credible and what isn’t?
This is a challenging undertaking. Anyone over the age of 13(according to Twitter\Facebook) and pretty much anyone under(to their chagrin) has a medium with which to put information into the Matrix, with no accountability for validity. There are no bosses, no editors, no fact checkers. A pimple-faced Rangers fan in his parents’ basement in Secaucus has full license to make up and release anything he wants. While the average, intelligent hockey fan would likely lean toward skepticism when dealing with these types, the inherent “want to believe” works against these falsehoods dying on the vine. Someone claims to have “inside information” about a deal that would bring an impact player to their favorite team, so they tweet it. From there, their minute following RT’s, and the information ripples out exponentially from there. Eventually, it gains enough traction that someone semi-reputable might throw it out, and all of a sudden, bad information has spread like wildfire. A recent example struck close to home. A few days ago, NHL “insider” Creasy reported that the Ducks and Preds were talking deal, based on publically-available information: the Ducks had scouted a couple of Preds games. That information alone could have been enough to pique our speculation, and enough to appease the followers of a more credible source. But that’s never enough for these types– so they have to throw out knowledge that they not only couldn’t possibly have, but is also patently untrue. They have to name names. It’s all a part of being the amateur, anonymous “insider.” I could write an entire blog on what their motivation may be, or the underlying issues “IRL” that cause someone to embark upon such an endeavor, but it’s not necessarily relevant.
“Eklund” was really the first of these hockey soothsayers, and is such a polarizing figure that it’s not uncommon to note that the same person bashing him via Twitter also follows him. Remember that thirst for rumors? Even if you don’t believe what he’s putting out there on the surface, deep down…you hope that this is the time he gets it right. I’m guilty of it as well, but I should note that Eklund may be the most credible of the un-credible “insiders.” I think he got into the game early enough(breaking in notably during the work stoppage in 2004-2005) and gained enough notoriety that he may actually have some legitimate sources. I also think that agents and GMs may use him for the purpose of misdirection in their constant war with each other. However, despite being the most “legit” insider, I have little doubt that he flat-out makes up 90 percent of what he reports. But that’s still better than the 100 percent made up by imitators such as HockeyBreak, NHLSourcesSay, and the latest flavor of the insiders’ week, Creasy.
So with all of that depressing knowledge, the voice inside you reminding, “these guys are full of it, we’re not trading Ryan Flynn and a 2nd for Zach Parise,” there’s still that nagging ache, that hunger for rumors. We wouldn’t be fans if we weren’t constantly pondering who we could get or what moves we might make to draw us closer to a Cup. So how does one reconcile that curiosity with a dearth of bad information out in cyberspace? The unfortunate truth is that your best bet is to stick to the guys that DO have accountability. You’ll never see Bob McKenzie report on something that he’s not reasonably certain of. Why? Because his reputation and career depends on it. He can’t go back behind the veil when he’s discredited and blame some vague “sources” or claim that “the deal went cold,” because…again…he’s accountable. It’s not as fun to get your information in such a clinical way, and there may not be the crockpot of rumors available from such mainstream sources, but there’s a reason for that. Besides, ultimately, if fiction is what entertains you, there’s always the Twilight saga that may be better suited to you.
Finally, the best atlas for navigating the rumor mill is good, old-fashioned common sense. Let’s hearken back to our friend “Creasy” again, and use his rumor as an example. He stated that the Predators were looking at Ryan or Getzlaf, and that the Ducks would be interested in Suter in return. This is a very easy one to flag. The Ducks, barring a historic second half, are not making the playoffs. The Predators likely will, and even in spite of that, are having difficulties re-signing their star defenseman. So…why would the Ducks trade a young forward on a reasonable contract for several more years for a player that will almost certainly leave via free agency? They wouldn’t—and yet my timeline is littered with people discussing this “potential trade.” Take a step back from the keyboard and think about it…it doesn’t add up.
Ultimately, human nature is always going to win out over our better judgement. The right brain will continue to tell you that there’s no way what you’re reading is true, and that the author would have no way of knowing if it were. But…the tiny voice that emanates from left brain will persist in being heard:
“Maybe his information is good, this time…”
Because of that, you’ll keep reading these rumors, even if you laugh them off to your friends and followers. And I will, too. We just need to be cognizant of what we should and should not get our hopes up over.
You can mark that down as a (POMR5)