Twitter trash talk doesn’t yet carry the same importance as other hockey traditions, like growing a playoff beard or refusing to touch the Stanley Cup till you win it.
But if it catches on, in 15 or 20 years fans might look back at Los Angeles as its birthplace. The Kings’ recent postseason dominance spawned a couple of loud voices online: first, a brash hockey team and lately a superfan that happens to personify a public transit agency.
Usually the account of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, @metrolosangeles, informs of delays and takes customer complaints.
But the gloves come off at game time.
“Any transit agencies in the OC want to go?” it tweeted before Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, accompanied by a picture of hockey gloves – always dropped before a hockey fight.
The account has pantomimed for its 22,000 followers its horror that a Metro employee would wear a Ducks jersey. It took shots at San Jose Sharks fans, too.
“if u know any @SanJoseSharks fans, the attached may come in handy later this evening,” it tweeted April 30, along with a diagram of the Heimlich maneuver. The Sharks have a reputation for choking in the playoffs.
The tweets come from Steve Hymon, a hockey-loving transit blogger who won a Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s Stanley Cup, before being laid off by the Los Angeles Times. He’ll be rooting for the Kings, of course, for tonight’s Game Three against the Ducks at the Staples Center.
Does Metro hate the Ducks too?
“The agency has not taken an official stance and I would not interpret our tweets as anything quote-unquote official,” Hymon said.
Metro’s jabs are meant in good fun, but also promote a partnership between Metro and the Kings. Anyone with a TAP card can save 10 percent at the team’s store. Metro also wants to promote that fans can take public transit to the games.
Jessica Levinson, vice president of the L.A. City Ethics Commission and a Loyola Law School professor, said taunting other fans is unusual for a public agency and possibly inappropriate.
“It’s a very bizarre use of an official Twitter,” Levinson said. “You can partner up with the Lakers or the Dodgers and you don’t have to vilify the Angels and the Clippers.”
Neither the Kings nor the Ducks would comment on the @metrolosangeles’s tweeting, and a spokesman from Orange County commuter railway Metrolink didn’t return calls.
But Metrolink hasn't tweeted about the Ducks, nor had any of the transit authorities representing the other six teams still in the NHL playoffs as of Wednesday afternoon. Calgary Transit has occasionally supported that city's team, the Flames, but far less aggressively.