Ben Chessor
The Navigator

In Issue 10, I wrote a feature about Twitter and how it has increased the fan experience in the past few years. I wrote about how it gave fans a chance to get closer to their favourite athletes than ever before, and how it makes it easier for people to get the latest updates and news about their favourite teams. Things like injury updates and trades are now announced just moments after they happen, thanks in large part to the accessibility of the Twitterverse.

But I didn’t write about the bad side of twitter in sport. There are certainly downsides to Twitter- negatives to allowing people open access to their favourite athletes. However, these downsides arise so often I didn’t feel they were worth writing about, until the Pittsburg Penguins decided to directly showcase everything wrong with Twitter in possibly the most hilarious way imaginable.

The Penguins decided that it was a good idea to allow fans to ask questions of forward James Neil. They told fans to post questions for Neil under the hashtag #askneil. Obviously they thought they would get a number of responses from Pittsburg fans asking innocent questions like; “What is your favorite hockey memory?” or “Do you still remember the first goal you scored as a kid?” Oh, were the Penguins ever wrong.

Twitter is an open website full of sports fans of every kind (not just Pittsburg fans as the Penguins seemed to have thought), and those fans also weighed in with their questions for Neil. Questions more closely related to Neil’s reputation for being one of the dirtiest players in the league who frequently doles out cheap shots to opposing players, including his infamous knee to the Bruin’s Brad Marchand, which, while enjoyable to watch (because Marchand might be one of the few NHL players less popular than Neil) was still an incredibly dirty play.

What struck me most about this #askneil fiasco, and why I needed to take time to write about it, is just how funny the whole situation turned out to be. The insults for Neil were clever and scathing; one fan posted a picture of a box of Elbows pasta, asking Neil when he would be able to get a sponsorship with the brand. So now I’m going to end this article with the top five tweets from this #askneil disaster, that left the Penguins embarrassed and the rest of the sports world in hysterics.

5. If you could have any super power, how would you use it to hit opponents in the head?

4. How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could cross-check someone in the face?

3. My 10 year old didn’t bring the trash out. Should I knee her or cross check her face off of her face?

2. If a tree falls down in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does James Neal still cross check it in the face?

1. If you opened a bar how cheap would your shots be?