WILMINGTON – While 24 Bruins prospects are getting plenty of instruction on the ice about improving themselves as hockey players, Boston’s summer development camp has also always focused on learning about life off the ice as well.
Professional hockey players are skewing younger and younger all the time, and the simple expectations of being a professional have become a challenge, along with the social media and other potential pitfalls existing for news pros.
The recently traded Tyler Seguin was a pretty good example of both the good and bad of Twitter: He was candid and humorous about many situations that confront every pro hockey player, but he also got himself into a bit of trouble, including a controversial “hacked” tweet about getting traded to the Dallas Stars.
“Obviously social media is really important, and it’s something that can make or break you,” said Malcolm Subban. “It’s something that everybody has access to, and the Internet can be crazy. You sometimes don’t understand how many people can actually see it. You don’t really get that."
“I need to be careful just like everybody, but you understand that things like Facebook and Twitter can [get out of hand].”
The development camp gives B’s prospects a tutorial on Twitter and social media, puts them through a nutrition class on eating a proper diet, and puts them in community outreach settings where they’re interacting with the public.
“I love to see how the kids interact in different circumstances they’re being put in -- community relations appearances and such. We’ll see how kids jump in wanting to interact and be a part of the community and be with other kids,” said Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney. “Those things are important [whether its] doing a cooking seminar or being a part of the social media. We’re always constantly looking for feedback. We’re not on top of them, videotaping them all the time. You guys are, but we’re not."
“You go back over footage, [not] to say this isn’t about spygate of any kind. It’s just how they interact and how they approach. How they’ve changed when Whitey [John Whitesides] talks about not leaving a water bottle or anything around at the end of the week. Somebody else picking up somebody else’s [stuff]. Those little things don’t go unnoticed. I think it’s important. I think it’s an important aspect of the organization and what we expect of the kids when they come back in September or when they do come back.”
While social media lessons and grocery lists from Whole Foods probably weren’t at the top of the “to do” list for the prospects entering this week’s development camp, it’s a part of the pro hockey experience that can’t be ignored anymore. The final choices in all of these areas are always left up to the individual player, of course, but it’s clearly part of the Bruins organizational mantra to leave no stone unturned after learning from past experiences.