Online font for hashtag savant

wo years removed from graduation, former Athletics intern makes it to the pros

Chris Lund has worked as the Ottawa Senators’ content producer since January, manning the club’s website and social media feeds.
Chris Lund has worked as the Ottawa Senators’ content producer since January, manning the club’s website and social media feeds.

Just like his team, Chris Lund is pesky.

In two short years, the Queen’s graduate has gone from student blogger to content producer for the Ottawa Senators, landing a string of coveted sports media jobs along the way.

Since January, he’s provided daily analysis on the Senators’ website and oversees the team’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. It’s the same type of work he’s done since his days in Kingston — but now, he’s on the biggest stage in sports.

“I didn’t think any of this would happen before I turned 30, or ever,” said the 23-year-old Lund, ArtSci ’11. “It’s been a crazy 24 months.”

Lund’s professional ascent began in 2009, when he founded Always OUA, a university sports blog. By his final year of undergrad, he was writing for Queen’s Athletics and contributing to The Score Television Network.

Intent on turning a hobby into a career, Lund emailed sports journalists and executives relentlessly. Countless shots in the dark produced one crucial make: a summer internship at The Hockey News.

That editorial experience triggered a domino effect. In 2011-12, Lund commuted three times a week between Kingston and Toronto, interning at Athletics and returning to The Score as a permanent staffer.

Last fall, an observant friend alerted him to an opening with the Senators. The NHL lockout was still ongoing, but Lund buckled down, staying up till 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve to prepare for an interview.

From a crop of 200 applicants, Lund was Ottawa’s man. He had 10 days to sell his Toronto apartment and report to work.

“It was one of those things where I was just totally over the moon about it,” he said. “The NHL doesn’t come knocking every day.”

Since his hiring, Lund has lived out the dream of any minor league call-up: taking on an immediate and integral role with the big club.

As Ottawa’s social media maven, Lund’s at the forefront of an online uprising: the personification of pro sports, where teams interact directly with fans and take on virtual personalities of their own.

Just as the Los Angeles Kings’ digital team mastered the art of rankling the opposition during their 2012 Stanley Cup run, Lund integrates spectator chants and team slang into his tweets, pandering to an optimistic young fan base.

“When I came in, everything had kind of been done from a traditional media perspective. I wanted to give it more pizzazz,” he said. “How I do things from [the team Twitter account] is how I would do things conversationally. I think people appreciate that human element to it.”

In the case of this year’s Senators, marketing the team meant banking on a distinctive underdog mentality.

According to Lund, Ottawa centre Jason Spezza began referring to his team as the “Pesky Sens” last season after a slew of improbable comeback wins.

Players and fans embraced the nickname in 2013, as the Senators advanced to the second round of the playoffs despite losing Spezza and several other stars to serious injuries.

Now a fixture in the Senators’ lexicon, #peskysens is a product of last-second heroics and Lund’s online handiwork alike.

“I’m just an aggregator for ideas and stuff like that,” Lund said. “If that means our players call themselves the Pesky Sens, I turn that into a hashtag, and two months later we have t-shirts with ‘Pesky Sens’ on them, then awesome.”

As Ottawa’s rebuild continues, the franchise’s adopted identity shouldn’t go away anytime soon.

The same goes for Lund, whose off-ice vision for the club mirrors the goal he’s chased since leaving Queen’s.

“Make a name for myself and help the other people I work with help make a name for themselves, as the people who built this exemplary production team,” he said.

“I think we stack up very well against the NHL, and I want to continue to grow that.”

QUOTED: Chris Lund on...

In-Game Tweeting

“I’m not necessarily taking things to the degree the [Los Angeles] Kings do. If we hit a point where Erik Karlsson’s answering questions in the dressing room about something I tweeted during the game last night … that’s not what I want.”

Social Media Snark

“If the [last-place] Colorado Avalanche decided tomorrow to be the LA Kings 2.0, they would get hammered for it. They could have funnier people doing it, they could have more talented writers, more talented video people — but if the team’s not winning, that’s the great equalizer.”

The Pesky Sens

“You could tell this was a team that embraced the underdog role, and they knew there was no expectation. Internally, they expected to hit where they hit, if not better, even with the injuries. Honestly, it was amazing.”

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