The Leafs’ John Tavares goes from under the sheets to #BehindTheTweets with Twitter video
|Toronto Star 11 Feb 2019 at 21:16|
When John Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs last July and sent out a tweet about his childhood dreams coming true, the response on Twitter was explosive.
Tavares-mania broke with that tweet, which centred on an image of the player as a boy, sleeping with his Toronto Maple Leafs bed sheets. The free agent wrote: “Not every day you can live a childhood dream.”
John Tavares dreamed about playing for the Leafs as a child. He posted this photo on Twitter when he singed with them last July. (Twitter)
And the social media giant took notice.
Twitter, after speaking with Tavares at the NHL all-star game two weeks ago, has made the Leafs centre the first NHL player featured in its #BehindTheTweets series.
Tavares joins stars of the entertainment and sports world for the series, which features videos of celebrities talking about whatever spark or inspiration surfaced as they sent out some of their most iconic tweets.
“It was the second-most liked tweet in Canada (in 2018) behind a pair of tweets from Barack Obama,” said Christopher Doyle, the director of sports partnerships for Twitter Canada.
The #BehindTheTweets video has been popular too, with more than 2.5 million views since it was released Saturday for Hockey Day in Canada. Tavares shot the video in San Jose at the all-star break, where he represented the Leafs along with Auston Matthews.
After Tavares mentioned, in gest, to Matthews that the tweet was the second-most liked tweet in Canada, Matthews reminded Tavares that the former U.S. president was indeed first.
The video shows Tavares in a relaxed setting and mood, explaining the inspiration and the facts of the original tweet July 1.
“Well, obviously this tweet has gotten a lot of attention but ... it was a great moment in my life,” Tavares says in the video. “It was a difficult decision (leaving the Islanders for the Leafs), but a very special one.”
Tavares said people have told him they loved seeing him in his pyjamas but he clarifies things in the video. “I was I my bed sheets, my Toronto Maple Leafs bed sheets, for the record.”
It’s that kind of candidness, not always available in standard tweets, that Tavares shows in discussing other iconic tweets, including his feelings about bus rides in junior hockey — in the wake of the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy — and his memories of his junior career in Oshawa, where the Generals retired his jersey.
The original tweet is something Tavares is often asked about. His following has shot up by more than 56 per cent since he made the tweet, according to Twitter.
The Leafs centre was also the third-most mentioned Canadian athlete on Twitter in 2018, behind the NBA’s Tristan Thompson and skating superstar and Canadian hockey fan Scott Moir.
Tavares, whose personal account lists 216,000 followers, hasn’t reached the levels achieved by P.K. Subban, the first Canadian NHLer with 1 million followers, and Alex Ovechkin, who is the top NHL player on Twitter with more than 2.5 million followers. But he owns the sixth-most mentioned NHL player account through the first half of the season, according to Twitter.
“The 2.5 million views were impressive to me, and launching it on Hockey Day in Canada (last Saturday) made a lot of sense to me,” Doyle said. “Ninety per cent of our audience here in Canada is interested in hockey. It’s a 365 days a year conversation and we monitored the tweet volume across Canada for this …
“We found that (fans) value a tweet more than an autograph.”
Through its release of #BehindTheTweets, Twitter believes it can expand the bond between fans and celebrities and offer a new and more in-depth link to them, beyond the range of the standard 140- to 280-character tweets.
“We talked about Twitter breaking down barriers between fans and athletes and, for us, this series ... (is) a chance to delve a little deeper into the moment (when the tweets were made),” Doyle said.
“Some athletes told me Twitter is like a diary of their career. I could see that with John, he mentioned as far back as his Oshawa days and being recognized there, in that city … like a trip down memory lane.”