Paul Bissonnette's name isn't going to come up in discussions of the League's top players, but when judged by one factor, he might be the most popular player in the NHL.
If the handle @BizNasty2point0 means anything to you, then you're one of the 27,000-plus people who follow the Phoenix Coyotes left wing on Twitter, or the many, many more who have checked out his Twitter feed to see what all the fuss is all about.
Bissonnette, who has 3 goals in 69 NHL games with the Penguins and Coyotes -- and no points in 13 games this season -- still has managed to become a social media sensation.
"They just want more than the plain old, 'Went to eat tonight,'" Bissonnette told NHL.com. "They want controversial, and I'll flirt with the line to kind of give them my perspective on life. A lot of hockey players, they don't put themselves out there like that."
Bissonnette, however, has no problem doing just that, with his tweets ranging from game reviews to some of his more eclectic opinions on world affairs.
Some tweets turned into trouble with the Coyotes -- hence the "2point0" version -- but thanks to counseling from Phoenix GM Don Maloney and help from the Coyotes' public relations staff, Bissonnette admits now to having a much better understanding of just how far he can go.
"If you go back to the summertime, (the tweets) were way more offside then they are now," he said. "And now before I tweet I read it over in my head."
Rich Nairn, the Coyotes' senior director of media relations, generally helps Bissonnette if he has any questions when it comes to what's appropriate to tweet.
"We encourage Paul to show his personality, we encourage him to tweet and be out there and push himself and the team and the NHL, so there's no issues there," Nairn told NHL.com. "We just want to establish some parameters, some guidelines, which he sometimes crosses, but we want to make sure there's certain areas he can't go into and keep him on track. He's been great. Don Maloney has been very supportive of Paul and his tweets. It's my responsibility to monitor his tweets and make sure he keeps it professional and respectful of the NHL and the Coyotes and all our fans. He's done a great job."
Nairn isn't the only one watching Bissonnette's tweets. Teammates and other Coyotes staff members have joined Twitter just to follow him.
"A lot of them just started to follow me, our trainers and stuff, just to see what I'll say next," Bissonnette said.
"I don't follow him on Twitter, but I read his tweets every now and again," teammate Shane Doan told NHL.com. "Someone in the room always has one so we can always read it and follow it. It's a lot of fun. His personality is very extraordinary, and we really enjoy it and have fun with him."
"I follow him a little bit," Eric Belanger added. "He talks about it a lot. I'm curious. I look at it once in a while and he's got some good stuff on there."
Some of that good stuff has gone to benefit the homeless in the Phoenix area. Something that started as a summertime item now has become a charity that he will use raise money to give a needy family a better Christmas.
"I was originally going to donate to a homeless shelter, but Sarah Finecey (team director of community relations and fan development), she's going to find a family," Bissonnette said.
Bissonnette said a number of his teammates have started their own Twitter accounts after seeing how much fun he has, but he isn't surprised that some of the bigger name players in the League have yet to fully embrace the Twitter-verse.
"I think the fans would love it, but those guys have so much on their plate to worry about," said Bissonnette. "Twitter is the last thing (Sidney) Crosby has time for. He probably wakes up in the morning and it doesn't stop until he goes to bed, people pulling him on all ends. He has to do commercials for this, create a good image for the NHL. … He's a pretty smart guy. I think he knows better to not start one."
Bissonnette and Crosby played together briefly during the 2008-09 season, and while he said he doesn't ever expect Crosby to open a Twitter feed, he would be interested if another former Pittsburgh teammate started tweeting.
"If Malkin had one and tweeted what he did, I'd love to know what goes on in Russia over the summer," Bissonnette said.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com