Perhaps you're familiar with @HockeyyInsiderr. Even with the awkward username, the mysterious Twitter account has racked up 50,000 followers* hungry for NHL rumors. Despite the fact that any sane reader can tell Hockeyy Insiderr has zero inside sources, and zero knowledge that can't be gleaned from legit reporters and educated guesswork, he's become the go-to person for wild speculation—a new Eklund, trying to parlay his rumormongering into legitimacy.
It's not hard to see how he does it. It's pure cold reading, like your favorite psychic fraud. Some rumors are more plausible than others—you know who has the cap space to sign a free agent, or who has a gaping hole to be filled at the trade deadline. Report those as fact, and some of them are bound to come true. People will forget the missed predictions, no matter how many of them, and remember the correct ones. (Recall that an analysis of Eklund's predictions showed he would have had a better hit rate if he had just picked a team's name out of a hat.)
Hockeyy Insiderr's been smacked down before. He's been taken to the woodshed for repeatedly reporting Zach Parise was heading to Pittsburgh. He's been caught walking back his own previously reported news, once "new information" emerges. A bored Devils fans pretending to be a team employee told Hockeyy Insiderr about a Bobby Ryan deal in the works, and without asking for any verification, Hockeyy Insiderr passed it along.
You'd think any of that would be enough to discredit Hockeyy Insiderr, who claims to have worked for four NHL teams. Well, how about this. What if you found out he was a high schooler from Quebec?
Jonathan Kyriacou did some internet sleuthing, poking through Hockeyy Insiderr's Facebook account's friends, and narrowing them down by clues Hockeyy Insiderr himself has left. What's left is Alex D., a 17-year-old "self-employed freelance writer" who attends secondary school in Beloeil, Quebec, has played minor hockey and has probably not worked for four NHL teams.
Commenters on Kyriacou's blog are filling in the pieces, including the kid's full name, social media accounts, and other details. All of which is beside the point. The point is that there are no reporters breaking news anonymously, because reporters (rightly) want credit for the hard work they do. So let's lay down some ground rules. If your favorite rumor account isn't willing to put their name behind their words, if they spend more time fighting on Twitter than backing up their reporting, and most importantly if they're wrong 50 times for every time they're right—they're probably a little shit teenager who doesn't deserve anyone's attention.
UPDATE: It's been pointed out that a large proportion of Hockeyy Insiderr's Twitter followers are fake accounts, and his number of followers increased by 25,000 in July alone.
Who is hockeyyinsiderr? [@kyriacou22's Blog]