Embracing The Craziness Of The NHL Trade Deadline's Fake RumorsS

The NHL trade deadline is next Monday, and you shouldn't believe anything you read.

First, check out On The Forecheck's thorough and merciless evisceration the many self-proclaimed hockey insiders, who monopolize Twitter and message boards with rumors either lifted from credible sources or created from whole cloth. You almost feel sorry for one bullshitter taken to task, so clinical and unsparing is the deconstruction of his bullshit, but then you see him throwing a tantrum on Twitter and you realize he's probably about 14 years old.

You're getting your NHL trade rumors from 14-year-olds. Does that bother you? Maybe it shouldn't. Maybe we ought to embrace the heretofore-shunned subculture of unsubstantiated trade rumor gossip, because with just a little common sense, it doesn't get in the way of real news. It can be treated as an entertaining sideshow, and one that's so uniquely hockey.

There are trade deadlines in all sports, but really only in the NHL and MLB do we regularly see important players move. But there's one thing setting the two leagues apart: at least here in the States, the local and national media just doesn't devote the same resources to hockey that they do to baseball. Sure, there are tons of experts — vetted, tested media folks who break real news, and here's a partial but quality list of people to follow. But the fact remains that for hockey fans, the rumor supply just doesn't meet the demand.

So you get your fakes. Sometimes they tell you to take them at face value when they say they've got tons of connections in the NHL, like with @Hockeyy Insiderr. Other times they're fake accounts of actual reporters. This time last year, everyone was freaking out over news relayed by @RealESPN_LeBrun, @tsngordmiller, and @RealKyper_, before noticing that a well-placed underscore renders the whole enterprise invalid. Though the actual Pierre McGuire isn't on Twitter, there are double-digit "Pierre McGuires" out there on Twitter, all breaking their own news. Yesterday, even ESPN fell for one of the fake Pierres.

This is where the common sense comes in, and I know this is the Internet, but it's really not asking much. If you see it on HFBoards, it's from some guy on HFBoards, no matter which arena his uncle sells concessions in. If you see it on Twitter, make sure it comes from a verified account of someone trustworthy. If it doesn't meet these conditions, you can dismiss it as pure wish-fulfillment, and enjoy it as such. (And there's no guarantee the "trustworthy" outlets always know what they're talking about either.)

Tim Dierkes was a guy with a day job and an interest in baseball rumors. He started by collecting and collating them at MLBTraderumors.com , and eventually made it his full-time gig. Now he actually breaks news and gets cited as an orthodox source. There's no place for that sort of bid for legitimacy in the Wild West of NHL rumors, and I prefer it that way. I'd rather ponder, dissect and laugh at a Kessel-for-Nash trade even though I know it's fake, then never have it cross my mind in the first place. The speculation is the destination.

On The Forecheck names their how-to-start-fake-rumors system after Eklund, the granddaddy of unfounded hockey gossip. I automatically made an Eklund joke yesterday. What's that tell you? Eklund's has become the go-to name for rumormongering, and that's a kind of celebrity in itself. There's an entire shadow "media" out there, and they're working just as hard coming up with and selling plausible-sounding trades as the real reporters are in breaking them. So why not celebrate their efforts, so long as we all recognize they're talking out their anuses?

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