Trending topics: Needless whining about playoffs; Dan Ellis, specialist

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?

As the summer draws to a close, we're finally getting to every hockey fan's least-favorite time of the year.

There won't be many more free agent deals (sorry, all you serviceable veterans who would command salaries of $1.5-2.5 million!), and very little left to do but sit and wait for training camps to start in just under a month. And that, of course, means it's the dawning of prediction time, when everyone can find a good reason to complain that their favorite team has been in some way disrespected and slighted.

Earlier this week, The Hockey News started posting their official predictions for where teams will finish the 2010-2011 seasons, starting with the teams that will miss the playoffs and, as of this writing, up to the No. 7 teams in both conferences. You can imagine the consternation this invokes.

While many will tell you (rightly, of course) that these predictions have no bearing on the season, and are stupid and meaningless and a waste of time, they will likely also breathlessly tell you why those predictions are wrong. Typically these arguments center around why the team they just so happen to support is getting short shrift from the experts, whose title is preceded by the term "so-called" in most discussions of this nature.

Ottawa fans, for example, weren't happy that their boys were picked to finish well outside the playoffs. Outrageous! Anyone who has opinions of this kind is clearly some sort of madman with no understanding for the sport of hockey, despite the fact that they think and write about it for a living.

(Coming Up: Dan Ellis(notes) vs. Paris Hilton; more NHLers join the Twitter revolution; a rival for Tweeting agent Allan Walsh; a list of hockey's most popular writers; and which hockey terminology should be banned for life?)

I guess the point is this, though: predictions are nothing more than something to generate page views (mission accomplished, by the way) and, to a far lesser extent, to give those who happen to fall ass backwards into a correct guess something over which they can pat themselves on the back.

Case in point: I'm still nursing a rotator cuff injury from all the self-congratulatory backpatting for being the only person on the planet to put Phoenix in the playoffs last year.

Predictions are at least twice as much conjecture and throwing stuff out there as they are cogent hockey thought. While it might be unfair to call this kind of thing baseless, it's not especially far from the truth. You and I can sit here and argue who's going to win the Atlantic from now until the season starts, and the only thing we'd be able to agree on is that it absolutely will not under any circumstances be the Rangers.

The best course of action is to simply not listen to predictions at all. They can be fun or whatever, but if you're just gonna complain about it, then you're way too invested.

It's August. It's not even particularly late August. And we're already getting playoff predictions. What's the point of getting all worked up? Let's at least wait until rookie camps open before we start killing publications for picking Philly to finish seventh, alright?

Dan Ellis is a specialist

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie and certified Puck Daddy pal for life Dan Ellis started a bit of a controversy by comparing professional athletes who make a lot of money to brain surgeons, but it's okay because his brother is one. Or something.

The crux of his argument is this: People who make a lot of money typically do so for a reason (except Jeff Finger(notes)). Professional athletes certainly make money because they can do things normal human beings like you and I can't. At like 30 miles an hour. On skates. In front of thousands of people. For nine straight months.

Also he liked using the term "specialist," to the point that, had it been Andy Sutton(notes) using the term to a reporter, it would have become just as popular as "expert" in terms of hockey memes.

I get his point to an extent. But I'll tell you where he lost the argument: someone asked how exactly Paris Hilton, who certainly makes a bunch of money, is a "specialist." His answer: "she is blessed to grow up in that family. but she expands her audience"

To sum up: Paris Hilton works just as hard as Dan Ellis, who works just as hard as a brain surgeon. I'm pretty sure that's what he was getting at.

(Oh and just so everyone is on the same page, he was just tryin' to "stir the pot with controversial conversation." I remember one time I did that and he yelled at me. Just kidding love ya Dan.)

The continuing adventures of NHLers on Twitter

The New York Islanders' Robbie Schremp (@RobSchremp), LA Kings captain Dustin Brown(notes) (@DustinBrown23), and Dallas Stars fan favorite Krys Barch(notes) (@KrysBarch) all set up Twitter accounts this week.

But the biggest ups of all go to Schremp, who asked fans to pick his introduction music when he gets picked for a shootout. That's pretty rad.

Hockey phrases you'd ban

Hockey Night In Canada's Jeff Marek with a real brainbuster: "If you could banish one word or term from the hockey lexicon what would it be?"

This is a great, great, great question that can be approached a number of ways.

You can choose to eliminate coach-talk from press conferences. No more "You gotta give them a lot of credit" after a 5-0 beatdown. No more "He's playing real determined hockey." No more "we just have to focus and play our game." Those would be good.

But then you've got the irritating media types with their catchphrases that are almost enough to make you throw your remote through the TV. Imagine never hearing Pierre McGuire say "big body presence," "active stick" or "monster." Envision a world in which Doc Emrick never says "A driiiiive!," or "waffleboarded." It would be fantastic.

Then there's the Sid Crosby-type quotes, like "Oh I was just going to the net and got in good position," "I just have to stay within myself and not try to do too much," and "We just need to get in the shooting lanes." I could do without hearing any of those again.

Also, phrases from idiots who don't understand the game, like "New NHL," could get the axe no problem.

And to get the joke out of the way for you funsters: "By Ryan Lambert." Haha. Go take a walk.

Move over Allan Walsh

Oh yes, Allan Walsh may have started the whole agents on Twitter thing, but Scott Norton (@NortonSports, who I'm assuming is NOT the former member of the nWo) is making a serious run for his title. He represents at least three NHLers with Twitter accounts, including Brown and Barch (the other I know of for sure is Cam Janssen(notes)).

Clearly, Norton gets the value Twitter presents to his clients' brands.

King of Twitter

So yesterday David Staples of the Edmonton Journal put together a list of the most popular hockey-related Twitter accounts, and as it turns out, the two most important factors in being followed seem to be, 1) being on TV, which is why Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie are way, way out in front and people on either TSN or Hockey Night in Canada make up six of the top seven spots, or 2) making up garbage that idiots love, which is why Eklund, of all the people in the world, has the third-most followers of anyone.

And how's Puck Daddy doing, you may ask? Mr. Greg Wyshynski cracked the Top 10. Dmitry comes in 36th. Leahy was 59th. And I somehow didn't get on the list despite deserving to be in 88th, and having more followers than the list's author. Which I'm SURE was simply some sort of oversight. Yes that must be it.

(Ed. Note: This edition of Trending Topics was jam-packed and written before today's big Twitter story -- The Toronto Sun ripping off the Maple Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets. Check here and here for that story.)

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.

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