Back in May when the Minnesota Wild hired Fox Sports North personality and University of Minnesota hockey announcer Anthony LaPanta as their new play by play voice, it's safe to say fans were less than thrilled about the decision. There was much discussion on Twitter, Facebook message boards and even on the street where those against the deal were passionate and vocal with their distaste.
Seriously, it was to the point on Twitter where there were zero positive tweets in 12 hours and only a handful later as the news trended there.
Social media may not be the most positive place (see the #NBCFail v. NBC Ratings going on now with delayed Olympic coverage) but unanimous negativity was unprecedented. Things were slightly nicer on the Star Tribune's website (although again there were few, if any positive comments) and that still comes from a poll where they saw 58% of readers disagree with the choice.
So it's interesting to see now that LaPanta himself has now joined the social networking service @AnthonyLaPanta. The face of FSN has had a soft launch of sorts during the Twins' season, especially compared to other Fox Sports North personalities, and that may be for the best. Getting some time before Fox Sports North or anyone mentions it (UPDATE: actually FSN did mention it yesterday) gives LaPanta time to settle in and deal with friendly faces before the appropriately titled Wild mob takes over when the season gets closer.
But how exactly will Wild fans react?
I wrote about Minnesota, FSN and LaPanta needing to do some damage control back when the whole crisis went down - hell, it still surprises me that no one saw that coming - and for the most part, the three have done a good job. While it helps that signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have helped change fans' perception and give them something to cheer about, at the end of the day the vitriol has not gone away. It's just delayed and will come up at the beginning of the season. However, having LaPanta on Twitter and more personal now would go back to many of the things talked about when he was hired.
One of biggest complaints people have had about LaPanta is that he's a company man who sounds (and looks) inauthentic. Whether that's or fair or not is up for debate but one thing for sure is that social media opens people up. Little quirks that don't come out over the air in thirty second quips or on the page do in 140 characters and allow people to better relate with them. That's a big problem with the face of FSN and being able to have Anthony LaPanta relate more before he takes on the play-by-play job will help somewhat. It's a good way to fight fire with fire.
Then again, having a public social network presence can also bring out the hatred to a new level.
Regardless, I think having LaPanta on Twitter is a good move to at least show that he's more personable. While this has nothing to do with how well he announces for the Wild (and I hope that's also a work in progress), it's something I'm interested in seeing which way it pays off and will be following how he and Wild fans treat this throughout the year.