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Monday, July 8, 2013

Tyler Seguin, Please Shut Up by @ChicksDigHockey

Twitter is a relatively new but vastly popular social medium. Combine that with being a young athlete with confidence and cash and you have a potentially explosive situation. It's a 24/7 world that provides a "no holds barred" social microscope.  For every true blue fan that follows an athlete on Twitter there are just as many waiting and watching for him to mess up so they can pounce on it.

Sports franchises pay big money to market their brand and protect its integrity. It only takes one careless tweet to destroy a brand very quickly. Many careless tweets by athletes have resulted in fines, suspensions and discussions about team social media bans as well as league-wide bans of Twitter.  Sports figures are even hiring social-media experts to keep them out of trouble.

Case in point: Young Tyler Seguin (@tylerseguin92) tweeted Saturday “Only steers and queers in Texas, and I’m not a cow.” (He has, famously been traded to Dallas recently from Boston) This, after he previously tweeted a homophobically perceived tweet in April of this year. 

Seguin, who appeared in a video with Boston rapper Slaine, sent out a tweet April 23 about it saying, “Just listened to the song in my bed. Gave me goosebumps no homo…” That time Seguin apparently realized he’d done something dumb almost immediately and deleted the tweet and apologized within minutes of sending it. The April apology read:
“Last night I made an insensitive comment which I sincerely regret. It was my mistake and I want to apologize to those who were offended. I think with myself, it was kind of late at night, just talking with my buddies, sometimes I forget that I’m on Twitter in front of a quarter-million people and not just talking to my friends. It’s just another learning experience.”

 The April incident came on the heels of the NHL becoming the first professional sports league to partner with the gay rights organization You Can Play. At the time, Patrick Burke, who is a leader in the social activism campaign had to talk to Seguin. The Bruins made a non-comment statement and You Can Play made a statement about how Tyler made a mistake but he’ll learn from it.

And yet, here we are again.

Seguin followed Saturday’s “An Officer and a Gentleman” rip with the following tweet: “Twitter hacking has to stop. My apologies.” There are those who are saying young Tyler simply left his phone out and one of his friends grabbed it and made the offensive tweet right after the dog ate his homework. Burke tweeted out last night: “It’s obviously his moron “friends” grabbing his phone and projecting their stupidity all over his public reputation.”

The Dallas Stars said in a statement Sunday that they had “addressed the issue directly” with Seguin. The organization gave up a lot to get Seguin. They basically gave up one of their best players in Loui Eriksson plus three solid prospects in Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith and Joe Morrow based on the fact that Seguin could fill the No. 1 center spot for years to come. Texas is not a forgiving state. They carry out more executions in Texas than any other state in the union. GM Jim Nill said Sunday morning that he is waiting to get Seguin to Dallas on Monday so they can sit down and have a talk. (It's ok Tyler, Texas abolished the electric chair.)

Seguin, it seems would do well to spend less time with his twitter-hacking friends and more time working on his game. For most of the crippled 2013 season, well-placed sources have been predicting that Tyler Seguin’s days with the Bruins were numbered. He was demoted to the third line. He was underachieving on the ice but making immature lifestyle choices off the ice. A source from within the Bruin’s organization said they made the decision to part ways now with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, as they felt is headed for trouble with his nightlife pursuits. That claim throws gasoline on the rumor that during the playoffs the Bruins forced Seguin to stay in a hotel even when in Boston so they could post a guard outside his door to enforce curfew.

The Bruin’s GM weighed in on the Seguin situation in an interview with The Boston Herald:
“I don’t want to really play that up too much,” Peter Chiarelli said. “He’s a 21-year-old that played as an 18-year-old, and I think he was just a 21-year-old kid. He was maturing and growing up, and he liked to have fun like the rest of them. I don’t really think it was such a big deal. But when I said earlier about focus, just about little things, about preparing to play — it was nothing about extracurricular activities.
“No player is perfect, either as a player or an individual. All his stuff mushrooms into a proliferation of items on social media and I get overwhelmed by the number of stuff that comes out. Maybe some of it is true, but I know not all of it is true. . . . Tyler is a 21-year-old, he is a good kid, he’s got a good heart and he is going to continue to grow up.”

Insight into Seguin’s problems may be found in the statements his parents made about his behavior. His father told The Toronto Star that his son is like most 21-year-old males, only he’s often trapped in the celebrity spotlight. “Who do you turn to when your teammates are older and you are by yourself and your family is in Toronto?” his father told the Star. Paul Seguin admitted his son enjoys the bar scene and sometimes goes out until 2 or 3 a.m. He further told The Star:
“Him having a good time occasionally, and it being in the media, this was something that the Bruins thought should never happen,” the elder Seguin said. “Even if it happened once or twice or three times, the Bruins didn’t like this happening even once.”
“With all respect to David Krejci or Milan Lucic, when the game is over, they go out with their family and hang out in the back of a restaurant. They’re nice and quiet and no one tweets about it. Tyler looks to his friends for comfort and where do his friends go? They go to the local bar.”

Seguin’s father wasn’t the only family member to run to young Tyler’s defense. His mother, Jackie was outraged according to The Toronto Star’s story:
“Oh my god! That’s stupid stuff,” Jackie said, her voice rising when she heard of The Boston Herald’s story. “That’s very unfair to say that. He’s a professional. That makes me very angry. You know what is happening?” she said. “Boston is now trying to justify why they’re getting rid of Tyler. Obviously, they don’t want a fan backlash against (GM Peter) Chiarelli. Now they’re making up stories.”

Seguin’s mother further claimed her son was not happy to be traded out of Boston but he is a “professional in capital letters.” Jackie told the Star that Boston’s intense media spotlight makes it a tough hockey city, especially when unsubstantiated stories leak out. In Dallas, her son is bound to flourish because he won’t be under the microscope.

“To whom much is given, much is expected” is a quote I grew up hearing. My Gram explained to me  that meant I had health, a comfortable life and intelligence. It was up to me to change the world or be changed by it. Saturday, as the latest Seguin situation was evolving, my friend Matt tweeted to me; 

No one has faced more time under the microscope than Sidney Crosby. Yet, have you ever read a single story about him drunk in public or punching a cab driver? No. He embraced his talent and takes serous his position as a role model and captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. His parents are present in his life but he’s never given them a reason to be outraged in his defense. 

It would behoove Tyler Seguin to take a page from Sidney Crosby’s book and be silent off the ice while letting his talent do the talking on the ice. After Seguin issued his most recent apology, he announced he would be shutting his twitter account down “for a while”.

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