September 07, 2010
Dan Ellis(notes) is a backup goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's also painfully oblivious to the fact that he's (a) employed at a time when so many others are not and (b) being compensated rather well for it and (c) that he comes off as a gigantic tool when he goes into his woe-is-the-pro-athlete hissy fits on his Twitter feed (@33dellis).
Last month, Ellis lamented the lack of respect for hockey players as specialists in their fields, comparing their years of preparation to those of a brain surgeon and watering down the notion of "specialist" to the point of ridicule by claiming that Paris Hilton was, in fact, a specialist at "expanding her audience." Which probably only sounds like a euphemism.
Monday night, Ellis piggybacked on a Twitter rant by Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints about the possibility of an NFL lockout next season. Bush mentioned several issues facing football players: health care, salary rollbacks and protections for retired players' benefits. They're all valid, and as Bush pointed out: "Every NFL Athlete does not make millions. That's a small percentage of the NFL. The vast majority makes nowhere near that."
This is also true in the NHL. In Dan Ellis' first season with the Nashville Predators, for example, his base salary was $500,000 (via NHL Numbers). Since 2008, the 30-year-old goalie has done OK for himself: a $3.5 million contract with the Preds, followed by a $3 million deal with the Lightning this summer.
Again: He's employed at a time when so many others are not, including some of his goaltending brethren in the NHL. But Monday night, on Labor Day no less, Ellis decided to commit a cardinal sin for any professional athlete, which is to register a personal complaint about his or her financial state in a public forum. As Ellis Tweeted:
As you can imagine, Ellis' lament found thousands of sympathetic fans lighting vigil candles in the hopes that things'll turn around for the spunky goaltender ... oh, wait, what? His comments actually inspired a snarky night of comedy aimed at the insensible millionaire, complete with a "Dan Ellis Problems" comedy pyramid? Let's take a look at how a guy who rides the pine was taken to the woodshed Monday night ...
The Twitter trend was #DanEllisProblems, and it spread like fire on well-lubricated charcoal at a Labor Day cookout. Here are 10 of the best reactions to Dan Ellis' comments, with varying degrees of nastiness:
Ouch ... that last was like a roundhouse to the stomach.
As expected, Ellis recoiled and went on defense: First with the customary "hey, just jokes folks!" thing and then with the predictable threat to stop being candid on social media and just talk about what kind of coffee he drinks. Which, we imagine, would be a lament about settling for French Roast instead of Kona because the NHL is demanding escrow payments ...
Look, there are serious issues here for professional athletes and the slice of the revenue pie they do or do not have. Bush's comments about NFL players, for example, are understandable: It's not all Darrelle Revis guaranteed contracts out there for backup tight ends.
Ellis' comments on salary reduction and escrow are also valid complaints, and subjects worthy of debate. But as messengers go, he has the subtle nuance and charisma of Gary Bettman. Which is to say none and none.
Monday night's "Dan Ellis Problems" flare-up wasn't a call for him to be more benign and less opinionated -- it was a well-deserved kick in the teeth for a professional athlete seemingly incapable of understanding what an elitist jackass he comes across as being on social media. It's enough to make a paying customer not want to pay.