Verified: Paul Bissonnette and the Power of Social Media

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Grinders and enforcers come and go in hockey.

Many of them have brief careers but some enjoy quite longevity, doing their job without the fanfare of the stars but enjoying the paycheck and living the life of a professional athlete.

But through the rise of Twitter, some have taken on a life of their own.  This is where Paul Bissonnette comes into play.

“BizNasty”, as he’s known to fans, friends, and foes alike, is a grinder for the Phoenix Coyotes.  He sees limited ice-time — he’s missed half his team’s games over the last two seasons — and has never been known as a scorer.  His eight career NHL points would be a strong testament to that.

But on Twitter, Bissonnette is a star.

His gregarious nature, blunt honesty, and hilarious quips have earned him minor celebrity on the social media site under the handle BizNasty2point0.  He makes no bones about his status in the league’s hierarchy but can often be found going toe-to-toe with hecklers.

BizNasty2point0: “Buddy, you’re playing junior hockey and you’re insulting a guy who’s made it to the highest level”, he says to one such lob tossed his way.

And to those who call him a plug, they’re right — selected 121st overall in 2003 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bissonnette made his name with his fists, spending time in the ECHL with the Wheeling Nailers and a couple of years in the AHL before finally getting the call.

Since being waived by the  Pens, he’s found a home in Phoenix as an energy player/enforcer.

He’ll never win a scoring title.  Hell, he probably won’t even see a power play in his career.  But he is right: how much flack can you give a guy who’s earned himself a spot on an NHL roster?

But while he knows that his personality and status as a professional athlete are what bolsters his popularity — complete with his own clothing line from Sauce Hockey — he knows that he has to carefully toe the line.

He learned the hard way in July of 2010 when he tweeted the following about Ilya Kovalchuk, then under his PaulBizNasty handle:

“@PaulBizNasty: kovalchuk’s gana have to give lap dances for 20 years instead of getting them now that he got rejected. sorry communist. back to the soviet.”

His quote was blown up and the reaction escalated to the point where Bissonnette deleted his handle, sparking a “free BizNasty” campaign to get him back on Twitter.

He’s since re-emerged under BizNasty2point0 and his followers list is at 405,000 and growing.   For those checking in at home, that’s more than NHL superstars Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Henrik Lundqvist, and many others.

Not bad for a guy with just five goals to his name.

It doesn’t seem to matter what he does on the ice, though.  He’s what fans love: a real, accessible, funny athlete who interacts with his fans.  All the better if you just happen to be an attractive female fan.

For Paul Bissonnette, it’s all about enjoying the ride.  So the next time someone decides to take a swipe at him on Twitter for being a fourth-line grinder, just consider this: he gets paid a King’s ransom to play at hockey’s highest level.

Who’s the plug now?

Follow me on Twitter: RWTFC

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