Sometimes, the best lessons are the one’s where we learn what NOT to do. When you’re a kid and put your hand on a stove, you learn that burning yourself is not cool. When you’re a teenaged boy and feel a girl up, you learn that getting slapped in the face is NOT a turn-on. And when you’re a player agent and you start bashing OTHER players to make your clients look better, you’ll find that the public reaction isn’t going to be kind. Welcome to Allan Walsh’s life lesson this weekend.
Over the weekend, hockey player agent Allan Walsh created a shit storm of controversy with a tweet he sent out over the weekend. He promptly deleted it after the backlash began, but just because you delete it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Here’s what started all of it:
Well what’s so bad about that? A guy is simply questioning a seemingly horrible record by a player who holds a high profile position in a high profile market. On the surface, it’s nothing more than a guy on Twitter doing what people on Twitter do. But when you take into account his transparent motive, that’s when the situation shifts from “hockey guy talking shit” to “hockey guy potentially crossing the line.”
What was his motive you ask? It just so happens that Montreal Canadiens back-up goaltender Jaroslav Halak is one of the best 2nd options in the entire league. The Habs have been in the midst of a bit of a goaltending controversy because Halak has played relatively well and Carey Price has played relatively poorly. The two have nearly identical save percentages—but that only tells a small part of the story. The Slovakian native has a Goals Against Average of nearly half a goal LESS per game compared to Carey Price. How big of a difference is that? Let’s put it this way:
Jaroslav Halak’s record: 5-2-0
Carey Price’s record: 3-7-0
Player agents taking their act of spin and hype to the pages of Twitter is nothing new. Drew Rosenhaus has been telling me how great every single one of his players is one tweet at a time since he arrived on the scene. Read his stream for more than 30 seconds and you’ll find that it’s nothing more than a PR arm of his sports agency. There is absolutely ZERO social interaction. It’s not good, it’s not bad—it is what it is. The beauty of Twitter is that if you want to turn off the never ending hype machine, you can always choose to unfollow him. It’s Twitter’s way of saying, “You can still listen to me, but I don’t care what you have to say anymore. Please go to hell.” I’d like to explain how it’s not as petty as that—but sometimes it is.
Allan Walsh’s comment(s) are inflammatory because of the tactic he chose to use on the Social Media platform. I have no problem with agents pimping their players; after all, that is their job. What pisses me off is that he felt that he had to resort to bashing another player to make his look better. Halak doesn’t need anyone in his camp comparing his stats and overall performance to Carey Price. Between RDS, Team 990, Habs blogs and newspapers, there are enough people doing that for all of Quebec. Hell, they’re doing it in TWO LANGUAGES! I could say that it’s an indictment on our entire culture, but that’s way too deep for a hockey website that uses the words “fuck” and “douchebag” liberally.
Bottom Line: The comments made Jaroslav Halak—who has always seemed like a good guy—look like he has no class because of his association with Walsh.
Another problem that I have with the entire situation is that once the situation started to turn against Walsh, he promptly deleted the tweet. First of all, high profile people need to understand that just because you delete something doesn’t mean that it won’t live on through forwarded tweets (re-tweets). If you’re going to say something—please have the integrity and character to stand by your comments. I know that it’s easy to go to the “agent’s have to integrity” card, but I’m not even going there. I’d be saying this about anyone. Hockey agent. Supreme Court Justice. Hockey blogger. Whomever.
Secondly, this isn’t the first time that Walsh and his comments on Twitter have been discussed. During the Blackhawks Qualifying Offer debacle, Walsh did what he could to fan the flames for his clients—only to delete the tweets hours afterwards. It’s like saying, “You completely screwed up and you owe me a huge raise,” to your boss; then the next morning throwing out a “just kidding.” That wouldn’t’ work an any of our lives; why does he think it will work in his? Too little, too late.
When it comes down to it, he made a pretty stupid decision at the wrong time about players on the wrong team. Bringing up crap in one of the most hotly debated topics in Montreal is NOT the way to make friends. It’s like poking a stick into an already angry beehive; there is no point. People are taking sides—and when you point out that the “next coming” is fallible; you’re bound to piss people off.
Honestly, I wonder if anyone would give a damn if he said this about some client in Phoenix or Atlanta. I know that I would still have a problem with it for the simple fact that he “went negative,” but would anyone care if he was talking about Michael Frolik in South Florida? Probably not—because the only thing the hockey media knows about either of those franchises is that their attendance is down. Anything else might take some actual work.
I hope that agents and the media alike in the sports world realize that Twitter and New Media CAN be a viable option. When used correctly, it’s a way to publicize how well a player is doing and how valuable he is to his team. But when used in the manner that Allan Walsh has used it, I’m afraid that he’ll turn more people off to a medium that they don’t fully understand.
Hopefully he isn’t ruining it for everyone.