The 21-year-old’s ‘lifestyle’ and Twitter mistakes are those of a young man growing up in age of unprecedented media scrutiny and his critics should realise this

 

Tyler Seguin’s inclusion in a seven-player deal with the Dallas Stars has been seen as the Bruins washing their hands of a player who they saw as spending too much of his time at local bars, and not quite enough time on being a professional. An article in the Boston Herald on July 5th named “well-placed sources” as suggesting that Seguin was shipped out “largely because of his immature lifestyle choices”.

In response, Boston GM Peter Chiarelli offered a somewhat self-contradictory explanation for the trade, acknowledging that trading Seguin was “not strictly an on-ice decision” but then also adding,“No player is perfect, either as a player or an individual. All his stuff mushrooms into a proliferation of items on social media and I get overwhelmed by the number of stuff that comes out.

“Maybe some of it is true, but I know not all of it is true… Tyler is a 21-year-old, he is a good kid, he’s got a good heart and he is going to continue to grow up.”

But the apparent empathy with Seguin’s choices is at odds with the unceremonious booting of a player the Bruins thrust into the spotlight after acquiring him from Toronto for Phil Kessel, a trade that now looks weighted in favour of the Leafs. Kessel, remember, was also traded in part due to concerns over his maturity.

Seguin, admittedly, has screwed up. He should have known better than to casually tweet “no homo” after complimenting his friend, a childish, jittery disclaimer that no homosexual longings were intended. And it was even more daft to tweet, “Only steers and queers in Texas, and I’m not a cow” little more than two weeks later. It really, really was not a good idea to claim it was the work of “hackers”, and then apologise to people who were offended. At least he’s finally done the sensible thing of censoring himself by shutting down his account.

The man is 21. College age. Mistakes are made and perhaps people should be rather careful about how the word “homophobia” is banded about in these instances. Seguin’s comments were lazy and stupid, but to call them outwardly homophobic looks ever so slightly hysterical, especially when far worse has come from the brazenly homophobic social media activity of one Tim Thomas, whom the Bruins stuck with despite the distraction he provided.

As for his lifestyle, there is little leniency afforded to young athletes who do not wish live like monks. The problem for Seguin, as he told reporters during his first introductory press conference in Dallas, was that he was the “only single guy” in the Bruins locker room. It is extremely naive of Seguin’s critics, and the Bruins organisation, to expect someone only just old enough to order a drink to return to his apartment or hotel room after a game, analyse his performance, go to the gym and then do it all again.

The reality is that Tyler Seguin is a 21-year-old like any other, but he cannot be reasonably expected to live a life of hockey-centric chastity. Even Sean Avery said once that “there are other things I want to think about when I leave the rink other than hockey.” Seguin has a life that thousands would do anything for: playing the sport they love and earnings millions of dollars whilst doing it. But it should not be forgotten that he is a 21-year-old kid who is entitled to a life outside of his profession.
 
Dallas, certainly a less rabid hockey market than Boston, may be ideal in allowing Seguin to grow up at his own pace whilst ensuring he does the job they pay him for. The Stars have certainly recognised that fact. The Bruins, for their part, may come to regret their lack of patience.
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