Just one week from the deadline, it's NHL trade season. And you know what that means: the widespread systematic dissemination of bad information and false hope. More so than any other sport, hockey engenders a trade fever, leaving fans obsessed with the possibility of gleaning insight into their team's deadline machinations. And a few enterprising individuals trade on this hysteria, appointing themselves as anonymous insiders, releasing vague information which is lapped up by fevered fans.
Now I know what you're thinking: "this sounds like a good racket, how do I get in on this?" Lucky for you, I've studied these "insiders" on twitter for months, learned their ways, and am now ready to release my findings to you, the trusting hockey public. Below is my step-by-step guide to becoming an NHL insider. Follow my E.K.L.U.N.D. system closely and you'll be swimming in Twitter followers in no time.
Before we get into the meat of E.K.L.U.N.D., however, you'll need a good Twitter account and I have some general tips to that end. First, pick a generic name that starts with "Hockey" or "NHL" and ends with something trade related. Then find a good avatar that will support your desired image of a rogue anonymous scout. Silhouettes are good. For instance, this popular Twitter insider has chosen this silhouette of a player taking a shot from iStockphoto. Wow, spooky! Too bad we can't see that anonymous source's face! He's probably so important, though, if he was outed, he'd have to be killed.
Next, add a bio that heightens your mystique. Some claim they're a former NHL employee/scout--surely a tribute to the original Eklund bio, which mysteriously changed when his identity went public. If you too weren't a former janitor at an NHL arena, however, you can always opt for some classic vague language. Here's an account I started as an example:
Wow, I feel on the inside already!
E: Educated Guesses
Educated guessing is the bread and butter of any twitter insider. These guesses serve the crucial function of having something to point to when you're been self-aggrandizing and building rapport with your followers--more on that later.
Say, for instance, a legitimate source says a particular big-name forward is available. You tweet: Hear the #Leafs, #Habs, #Flames, #Rangers, #Kings, others all interested in Nash. Wow, how did you get that scoop?
Well, when dealing with a forward, merely list the Leafs, Flames, and Habs as interested, followed by any other teams that seem logical. Now you've got some of the biggest fanbases on Twitter excitedly retweeting you. And if one of these teams lands the player in a week, you can ceaselessly reference this tweet as proof of your connections. And if you're wrong? No one will notice!
That doesn't mean you should do unto others as you would have done unto you. If another "insider" is wrong...
K: Kick them while they're down.
Let your followers know you're not like those other Twitter insiders, always spouting the same old junk. You have a great advantage of not being a real journalist: you can aggressively discredit your competition. Eklund says Bernier for Nash is a done deal? What a chump! Hey guys, notice how I didn't say Bernier for Nash was a done deal?
But you can't make a name for yourself just stating the obvious. And you don't want to get made a fool of Bernier-for-Nash style. So you need to...
L: Lie and backtrack
It's time to make a splash. You need a big scoop. But actually scooping something is hard work, and leaves yourself vulnerable if you're wrong. Here's what you do: capitalize on the inherently ever-changing nature of the trade landscape. Come out with a scoop that no one can verify and then quickly recant, as if you were right but circumstances have changed. For example:
Holy crap! Really?!?! That seems totally implausible. Why would Rick Nash only accept a trade to another losing team, one that coincidentally happens to have a huge fan following on twitter?
Haha, psych! Guess we'll never know.
U: Unfiltered Information
What's that? You actually want to cull information from real sources? Woah there, with real sources comes the temptation to verify information and defer to more qualified journalists. If you're going to accept tips, accept all tips. Take any information given to you and immediately put it on the web. Hell, post your phone number in your Twitter bio.
You want teams to know that anything you're told will quickly be spread throughout the internet. Believe me, teams will be eager to tell you things when they hear that. And when people call you out on being right less often than a random number generator, just tell them you're in the business of telling what you hear. Hey, that's technically true!
N: Neglect real reporting
When trade news breaks, and you of course didn't call it, how will you respond to jaded followers? Simply act like the guy who walks into class 20 minutes late and sits down like he's right on time.
Been a busy morning so apologize if this is already out there but Jeff Carter, Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin were not at practice.— Hockey Break (@HockeyBreak) February 16, 2012
"Yea dunno if you guys heard, but a big trade went down. You heard? Yea I've just been super busy with insider stuff, so coudn't report it before Bob McKenzie, like I totally could have otherwise."
D: Deluded self-Importance
After following the above steps, you should have a pretty solid stable of gullible folks following you. People are talking about you like crazy? Must be because of how awesome you are, not the preposterous rumor you're spreading. And when beat writers get annoyed, because they constantly have to respond to readers, mentioning your BS, just act like it's a rap beef.
BOOM! Congrats, you're an insider.