The National Hockey League has joined other major sports leagues by drafting a social media policy for the upcoming 2011-12 season.
Highlights of the policy include a social media blackout window before, during and after games, as well as during practice and any other team obligations. Any use of social media applications such as Twitter or Facebook in violation of these rules may be subject to an undisclosed punishment.
Both the National Football League and National Basketball Association have had policies in place that restrict the use of social media on game days for more than two years, while Major League Baseball has had some rules in place for almost as long.
Though the NHL is far behind others in implementation, the league has been keen to create social media rules for some time. Without a league-wide policy, many individual teams have already taken matters into their own hands.
According to the Philadelphia Courier Times, Flyers' general manager Paul Holmgren met with prospect Zac Rinaldo on Tuesday after Rinaldo tweeted about his status for a rookie game. Notable Flyers on Twitter include Ilya Bryzgalov (@bryzgoalie30), Matt Carle (@mattcarle25) and James van Riemsdyk (@JVReemer21).
The Phoenix Coyotes are among the more active teams on Twitter, led by colourful enforcer Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0), who has more than 132,000 followers. GM Don Maloney stated almost a year ago that the Coyotes were creating their own set of guidelines.
Many NHLers take to Twitter on their days off to poke fun and react to action around the league. Others take to the social platform to promote their brands and charities and others tend to be a little more controversial.
As long as this happens outside of the NHL workplace and doesn't interfere with team activities and obligations, the new rules shouldn't impact the way many players currently use social media tools.
The NHL and NHLPA collaborated on the policy over the summer.