AP Enterprise Writing 2013
The Associated Press annual writing contest for AP staffers is judged by Associated Press Sports Editors at their winter meetings.
– Sports writer John Marshall, enterprise writing, for his story on how Phoenix Coyotes enforcer Paul Bissonnette adopted Twitter reluctantly but became an unlikely star on the social media network. Story was originally published in March 2013.
Phoenix Coyotes Paul Bissonnette Twitter
PHOENIX – EDITOR’S NOTE — Phoenix Coyotes enforcer Paul Bissonnette adopted Twitter reluctantly but has now become an unlikely star on the social media network. In keeping with Twitter style, this story about Bissonnette’s online personality is broken up into lines of 140 characters or less. Sections written by sports writer John Marshall are preceded by his Twitter handle (jmarshallap). Quotes from other sources are preceded by the handle or name of the person being quoted and set off by quotation marks. Actual tweets are clearly noted when they appear in the story.
@jmarshallap: Paul Bissonnette’s fists helped get him to the NHL. His Twitter alter-ego, BizNasty2point0, gave him unheard of popularity for a 4th-liner.
@DonMaloney (Phoenix Coyotes GM): “U.S. hockey fans might not know Paul Bissonnette, per se, but BizNasty’s a name everyone’s familiar with.”
@jmarshallap: Biz has the knuckle scabs and mangled nose of a brawler, but a cache of Twitter followers more suited for a star, 397K and counting.
That’s more than Patrick Kane (255K), Henrik Lundqvist (231K), Steven Stamkos (226K). #rare.
@ShaneDoan (Coyotes captain): “It is unique. Look around the league and there’s not that many people in his position who have that many followers. He’s amazing that way.”
@jmarshallap: Tough and quirky, enforcers have always been fan favorites.
The Twitterverse sent Biz into another realm for a player who sat out half his team’s games last season.
@BizNasty2point0: “It just blew up.”
@jmashallap: Now he’s got a Taco Bell commercial, a clothing line with Sauce Hockey, a fervent following.
@DonMaloney: “We had a youth team come down from Canada and 4-5 of the kids went to Shane, 1 to Mike Smith and the rest went to BizNasty’s locker.”
@jmarshallap: Biz hated Twitter initially, put off by updates on tanning, shopping, relationships. #vapid
@BizNasty2point0: “I thought it was dumb; they have 20,000 tweets and 100 followers, and it’s like what are doing with your life? Do something productive.”
@jmarshallap: Former teammate Scottie Upshall changed things. Told Biz to joke, comment on TV sporting events. #perfectfit.
@ScottieUpshall (Florida Panthers): “He’s one of the funniest guys in the game. There’s no filter.”
@jmarshallap: It occasionally leads to trouble. He had to shutter his original Twitter account, BizNasty.
Reason? A comment about Russian hockey player Ilya Kovalchuk with references to lap dances and communism.
@BizNasty2point0: “It was probably being politically incorrect, but I wasn’t trying to be hurtful. I just said back to the Soviet. A little offside.”
@jmarshallap: Biz rebooted his Twitter account. He’s still pointed.
Some examples in these real BizNasty2point0 tweets:
Dwight howard is up for worst body language. #Grammys
You have to live in a trailer park to call in to the Nancy Grace television show.
Leaving a voicemail over 1 minute should be punishible by death.
If Christmas has taught me one thing it’s to never kidnap Liam Neeson’s children.
MY ROOMMATES LISTENING TO RASCAL FLATTS. PLEASE SEND HELP.
@jmarshallap: Biz still straddles the line. Occasionally trips over his fingers on the keyboard.
@DonMaloney: “We’ve had to address it a number of times.
“There’s a fine line between what’s acceptable as a professional athlete and what’s acceptable as a 14-year-old.”
@jmarshallap: To keep Biz from getting too nasty, the Coyotes have a staffer track his Twitter account.
Biz occasionally checks in to see if he’s about to go too far. Most of it gets through. #leeway.
@BizNasty2point0: “They do let me get away with a lot and show my personality, and I do appreciate that. I’m not very filtered compared to some other guys.”
@jmarshallap: Self-deprecation augments the appeal. Starts with his Twitter bio:
@BizNasty2point0: “Play in the NHL for the Phoenix Coyotes. Well sort of. Once played in the ECHL for the Wheeling Nailers, seriously, that was the name. Living the dream.”
@jmarshallap: His actual tweets and retweets continue the theme:
“NHL_problems: Tag the worst hockey player you know in this tweet.” BizNasty2point0
If you drafted me in fantasy hockey I thank you and the people you are playing against thank you.
Should I mention ‘being sued by NHL’ on my McDonald’s resume?
Instagram takes me from a 4 to a soft 7.
tsnjamesduthie: BizNasty2point0 btw, was at my daughter’s swim meet on Sat. 4 freakin hours and she swam for 3 mins. Now I know how your parents feel.
@jmarshallap: BizNasty2point0 is a 140-character extension of Bissonnette’s personality.
@CalClutterbuck (Minnesota Wild forward, workout partner): “That’s what he’s like. He’s a pretty unique individual. Unpredictable, to say the least.”
@jmarshallap: Biz practically came into the world with a ready comeback, firing back at a family friend’s verbal jabs at an early age.
@BizDad (Cam Bissonnette): “He was a 4-5 year old chirping an adult on a same level. I found at that time, this kid’s not going to take any flak from anybody.”
@jmarshallap: He certainly doesn’t on Twitter, especially when followers knock his playing ability. #touchanerve.
@BizNasty2point0: “Buddy, you’re playing junior hockey and you’re insulting a guy who’s made it to the highest level.
“What does that say about you?”
@jmarshallap: Off ice, Biz is gregarious, just like his father — and so many other enforcers. Serves him well on Twitter.
@ScottieUpshall: “He makes it seem like hockey players are just normal people like the rest of them. He’s pretty good at it.”
@jmarshallap: Grammer, er, grammar he’s not so good at, a byproduct of attending French school in Welland, Ontario until 7th grade.
@BizNasty2point0: “I go to tweet something and have to ask guys, how do you spell this, and it’s like five-letter words.
“They’ll be like, #%$! off Biz, so I’ll Google them now, going back and forth with it on every word.”
@jmarshallap: The misspellings cause his mother to cringe almost as much as when he crosses the good-taste line.
@BizMom (Yolande Bissonnette): “As a mother and someone who used to be a professor at a community college, his grammar could be better.”
@jmarshallap: In a way, the grammatical gaffes fit right in, an inadvertent form of self-deprecation making Biz even funnier.
Like the battered nose on his face, flaws are a part of the BizNasty brand, adding character to a player who made a name for himself in 140 characters or less.
AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this story.
Follow John Marshall on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/jmarshallap