The National Hockey League issued a social media policy Wednesday night for its players and club personnel.
The policy, the NHL Social Media Policy for League and Club Personnel, governs both players and hockey operations staff and is designed to promote the value of social media as a tool for communication with fans. It also highlights issues surrounding social media, as well as limits the use of social media by players and hockey operations staff on game days.
As per the new policy, there is a total "blackout period" on the use of social media on game days, which for players begins two hours prior to opening face-off and is not lifted until players have finished their post-game media obligations. The suggested blackout period for hockey operations staff is longer, beginning at 11 a.m. on game days.
Also, the new policy makes it clear that players and club personnel will be be held responsible for their social communications in the same manner in which they are held responsible for other forms of public communications. As a result, discipline is possible for any social media statements that have or are designed to have an effect prejudicial to the welfare of the League, the game of hockey or a member club, or are publicly critical of officiating staff.
"The policy is sensible," said Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "It lets our players and clubs participate substantially in the opportunity of social networking while identifying and mitigating some of the risks. To date, our players and clubs have been exemplary in connecting with fans on social networks, and fans should not expect to see any material difference as a result of this policy."
Phoenix Coyote forward Paul Bissonnette, one of the most active players on Twitter, boasting more than 132,000 followers, tweeted Wednesday night about agreeing with the policy.
"People asking about NHL's new policy on Twitter. I think its good," Bissonnette tweeted. "I don't even play much and I don't tweet on game days. Plenty of off days."
The policy also provided social media tips for the players and club personnel to facilitate the best possible social-media dialogue with fans.
The policy, which was collectively bargained with the NHLPA, takes effect immediately.