Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear Internet instead?
Fame is fickle. And on the Internet, people will turn on you in a hurry.
So let this be a lesson to all you kids out there for the next time you, too, are assaulted by an above-average middleweight fighter/fourth-liner: don't lawyer up.
The amount of time it took for pretty much the entire hockey world to turn on James Engquist was pretty much as long as it took Minneapolis Star Tribune beat reporter Michael Russo, who tracked him down and got a couple quotes from him, to put the final period after "legal representation."
Suddenly, he went from victim who was totally blameless to litigious jerk in the public's eye. Jokes were made at his expense pretty much immediately, and they weren't especially good-spirited ones either.
Let's put it this way: when Engquist said he would be getting a lawyer, the sentiment of many hockey fans shifted so that they were kind of on the same side of the argument as Damien Cox and Mike Millbury. That takes some work.
(Coming Up: Lighthearted fallout from the Rypien affair; the Toronto Maple Leafs are twittering; and your Pearls of BizNasty for the week.)
Remember, just an hour earlier, hockey fans were calling for Rypien to get suspensions for as long as the rest of the season. Eyeroll-inducing as those cries for justice may have been, it underscores just how not-on-Rypien's-side everyone was. But with one quote, They went from not-on-Rypien's-side to definitely being anti-Engquist. It was fairly stunning.
And why? Well, the original piece by Russo wasn't exactly worded in such a way that it painted Engquist in a forgiving light. Saying that Rypien might have dragged him over the railing and into the tunnel, as he did, is simply not true, and anyone who watched the video can see that.
Despite his having been attacked by a guy who essentially punches people in the face for a living, one of the last sentences of the story still reads thusly: "Engquist said he didn't receive an apology from the league, Rypien or the Canucks. He said he hasn't heard anything from the Wild."
The way this comes across, Engquist was expecting an apology, waiting impatiently by the phone for any involved party -- note that it lists the league, both teams, and Rypien himself among the people who have yet to offer their mea culpas -- to give him a tearful apology and, maybe, a nice season ticket package.
That won't win anyone over.
It's easy to see why he thinks Rypien would owe him an apology. That's assault, brotha. But the Canucks? I mean, I guess Alain Vigneault looked at him, and Manny Malhotra(notes) told security Engquist should be thrown out, but that's a bit of a stretch.
But why say the league owes him anything at all? What would the Wild have to say to him? Hell, instead of not throwing him out, I read several places they upgraded his seats (though how much of an upgrade over first row behind the benches you can get is, I guess, debatable).
What Engquist is guilty of, if anything, is not keeping his mouth shut. No one likes someone who wants to paint himself as a victim. And between his brother spilling all the details on sports radio, completely unsolicited, and this weepy overdramatization in the Star-Tribune, Engquist waged a bit of a one-day media campaign so everyone was sure who he was and that he was terribly aggrieved by what had happened to him.
Well now everyone knows. And they think he's a bit of an [expletive].
More Rypien fallout
Soon after everyone changed their mind and decided there wasn't a good guy to be found in this whole unfortunate situation, it became the butt of a number of hashtag memes.
These included but were certainly not limited to those where people guessed what Engquist said to draw Rypien's ire, and one where people suggested who else should be manhandled.
Some of the better ones follow.
@Down2Puck: "I hear you're Favre's photographer"
@ELDESTRUCTO83: "Roger Moore was better than Sean Connery!"
@theUmbergler15: "excuse me sir, me friend here feels uncomfortable checking me for lumps. Would you mind?"
@theactivestick: "The top stopped spinning"
@lance_bradley: "First Date Guy: explaining icing/offside to his date and getting both wrong."
@kissmyrice: "people who yell 'shoot it!' as soon as the puck touches any player's stick"
@number23_rob: "Any female fan who refers to herself as 'Mrs. [last name of player]'"
@passittobulis: "Anyone whose opinion on appropriate fan behavior differs from mine even slightly... "
Leafs head to Twitter
Pearls of Biz-dom
"My kids, if I ever accidentally have some, will not got to school. They will start twitter accounts and learn from the people."
If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or via e-mail. He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.