Trending Topics is a new column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you don't know about Twitter, get with the times old man.
Many of you know Allan Walsh as the agent for "clients" Jaroslav Halak(notes), Miroslav Satan(notes), Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) and (apparently) many other NHL players. But this week we also found out he's a guy you don't want to piss off.
One of the players he represents, free agent to be Stephane Veilleux(notes), had a shoulder injury pop up in his postseason physical. But Tampa Bay, his team this season, refuses to pay for surgery. And that's when Walsh went on the warpath.
Essentially the dispute boils down to Veilleux's inability to pinpoint the exact moment at which his shoulder began bothering him& - it was definitely during the season - so the Lightning feel that the injury is not hockey related. As you can imagine, this didn't sit well with his agent.
Walsh's next 42 tweets and retweets to the roughly 5,400 people that follow him were basically an assault on the integrity of the organization and its employees. Basically the court of public opinion has the Bolts getting their asses kicked all over the place.
New owner Jeff Vinik had said in the past that he wants the Lightning to be viewed as "being a world-class organization." Well this isn't the way to do it. A good way to turn around an organizations shall we say diminished reputation is not to deny a surgery to a third-line kind of player that you don't have under contract come July 1. Especially because that decision "is coming directly from the owner."
Know who notices that kind of thing most? Other players. Say you're a free agent and your decision comes down to two or three offers, one of which is from the Lightning. Hmm, let's see, do you go with the Bolts, with no coach, no general manager, big-time on-ice problems and now a refusal to pay for a necessary surgery for one of its players? Or do you go with literally any other team? Real tough decision there.
To be fair, we're only getting one side of the story. The Lightning could, in theory, know that Veilleux injured his shoulder beating up orphans or something. But the point is they're not saying. Their only statement was that they're following the rules of the collective bargaining agreement.
Regardless of who is actually in the right here (hint: probably not Tampa), this isn't how a sane person conducts business. If the Bolts do end up paying for his surgery, after the NHLPA grievance, then they look like they're only shelling out the cash, which I imagine is a relatively small amount in the world of professional sports, because they've been compelled to do so. If they don't, they look like scumbags to everyone.
Leave it to the Lightning to back themselves into a lose-lose situation and then not even try to get out of it.
And leave it to Allan Walsh, the first agent to really understand and utilize Twitter, to turn social media into a weapon.
(The epilogue, by the way, is that it worked. Walshed announced at 1:15 p.m. today that the Bolts agreed to pay for the surgery, which was performed on Thursday.)
(After the jump, the top hockey related trending topics of the week.)
As I was typing this, an odd topic began trending.
What, I wondered, could Laraque have done to climb from nearly unmentioned to the No. 1 topic in Canada in the space of about 45 minutes? Turns out it's this:
I am in favor of this internet-thing.
He has literally been trending all week, and why not? According to @alexsusma, Halak's 5-0 this postseason when facing elimination with eight goals against and a .960 save percentage. So I guess that's pretty good.
While I'm sure no one outside of Vancouver will miss the Canucks in this playoff, their elimination has come with a price: no more Green Men.
But there was some good as well: making fun of the Canucks through Photoshop briefly became a fun thing to do.
Unless you were a wrestling nerd in 1997 like I was you won't get this.
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.