In Age of Social Media, Thomas Greiss Learns Lesson

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COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 08:  Thomas Greiss of Germany looks dejected during the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship game between Germany and Russia at Lanxess Arena on May 8, 2017 in Cologne, Germany.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images) 768w, 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 627px) 100vw, 627px" />

When you’re a celebrity of any sort, people are going to watch every thing you do.

I believe The Police said it best. “Every breath you take,  every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you.”

(Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images) 220w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" />

(Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Thomas Greiss learned that the hard way this week. The Islanders’ top goaltender, and a star German hockey fans everywhere admire, were a little taken aback to say the least when some of his recent Instagram likes came to light. Greiss liked several posts that struck a nerve with German citizens. One post he liked was simply a picture of Adolf Hitler, with “Just as innocent as Hillary” written underneath it. Another shows a bearded Donald Trump dressed as a Roman Legion soldier lifting the severed head of Clinton in the air.

As you might expect, Hitler and the Holocaust are major sore spots for Germans. There are several strict laws in the country “criminalizing both the denial of the Holocaust and the promotion of Nazi ideology.

Greiss was asked about the controversy on Friday night, and he told Newsday, through the Islanders”“I apologize for interacting with several posts that appeared in my timeline, which were wrong to engage with. ‘Liking’ these posts was a mistake, and I sincerely apologize again.” The Islanders released their own statement to Newsday, “The New York Islanders do not condone the actions of Thomas Greiss on social media and are addressing the situation internally. Thomas regrets his actions and recognizes that he made a mistake.” It appears that it will be chalked up to a mistake, and he will face no disciplinary actions from the NHL or the Islanders.

Case closed, right?

Not so fast. Things like this have a habit of sticking with someone for a while.

While the German Ice Hockey Federation, who released its own statement condemning Greiss’ actions, said this would not affect his place on the German National Team, the German Olympic Sports Confederation doesn’t seem to feel the same way.  Alfons Hörmann, president of Confederation, or the DOSB, threatened to exclude Greiss from the German team for next year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea. “Anyone who acts or communicates in this way cannot be a member of the team in Pyeongchang,” Hörmann told the SID news agency. That’s great in theory, but the NHL has already said they won’t be sending players to the Olympics next year.

Marc Hindelang, who is the VP of the German Hockey Association, told German reporters that Greiss is “not a right-wing extremist, he is not a Nazi. Hitler is a no-go. We have spoken to him about it and he withdrew the likes. I don’t think it will happen again. As I said, he is not a right-wing extremist.”

It’s kind of scary when someone has to be defended against being an extremist of any kind.

Christian Ehrhoff, the German team captain, offered up some thoughts of his own. “I have known Thomas for a very long time and he has never done anything to attract attention in a negative way. I think he has the right to his political views and if he supports Trump that is his business. What he liked was certainly unfortunate, but as a team… I have no problem with Thomas.”

While everyone is entitled to their own opinions and political views, the buck stops with Hitler, especially from a German goaltender. Hopefully Greiss has learned from this situation, and will be more careful in the future.

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