Social media king on stopping tweeting, recovering from depression

Bissonnette on moving away from social media (2:05)

Paul Bissonnette explains why he's moved on his days of engaging with critical fans on social media, saying he was a "young punk" and grew out of it. (2:05)

After five seasons with the then-Phoenix Coyotes, Paul Bissonnette has spent the past two years playing with the Los Angeles Kings' farm team. He won a Calder Cup title in Manchester, New Hampshire, last season before the team moved to Ontario, California.

But the colorful forward's biggest AHL transition might be his toned-down approach to social media. With his Biznasty persona, the self-deprecating fourth-liner drew an online following that includes almost 699,000 Twitter followers. That's more than Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin and all but eight NHL teams.

Bissonnette might have abandoned the BizNasty persona in favor of @BizNasty2point0, but that hasn't made him any less engaging. We caught up with him recently to discuss his career path, dealing with depression and social-media strategy.

ESPN.com: Any interesting memories from your championship run with Manchester?

Paul Bissonnette: They had a crazy atmosphere in Utica. It was nuts. My parents were sitting behind a guy who had a prosthetic leg. When they would score, the guy behind him would fill it with beer and chug it out of the prosthetic leg. They were all over us. The most I've ever been intimidated [in] an opposing rink.

ESPN.com: How would you describe being in the AHL the past couple of seasons?

Bissonnette: Last year was tough because I didn't have a job at the start of the year. I went to St. Louis' camp and had a good camp. I had a blast. They brought me and Ryan Whitney in. We would joke about how we were basically the clowns they brought in to keep the guys entertained. Whether certain guys thought we were funny or not, at least we kept each other entertained.

ESPN.com: How difficult was it after St. Louis released you?

Bissonnette: I went home and sat on my couch for three or four weeks and dipped down in a bit of a depression. All I know is hockey. I think we're all creatures of habit. For my whole life, I've gone up and gone to the rink or in the summertime trained for hockey. Then you see all your friends and everyone has jobs and they're all playing and you're sitting at home. You try to stay motivated. I was skating and trying to work out. But I was just not in a good mental place.

All the reviews were positive [with St. Louis], so my mentality leaving there was I should have a job in a week. A week went to two weeks and after two weeks I thought, 'What is wrong with me?' I couldn't leave my couch. My girlfriend came to me and said, 'I'm leaving. This is miserable for me, too.' It was bad. It was a tough spot. All your friends are on TV playing the game they love and you're trying to find ice time and train with OHL kids. You played in the NHL the season before and you're back in your hometown. People are asking you, 'What are you doing here?' Well, I don't have a job. It's a little embarrassing.

ESPN.com: How did you combat your depression?

Bissonnette: I called the doctors [with the NHL/NHLPA behavioral health program] and they were awesome. I actually didn't drink for that full month.

Listen, we're talking about a problem [that's] not very big in the grand scheme of things. There are people who don't know where they're going to get their next paycheck or how they're going to feed their family. I understand that, but everything is relative to what you're going through.

So I said, 'These are my symptoms.' He said, 'When you're suffering from depression your body kind of shuts down to protect itself.' They had me doing breathing exercises three or four times a day. I would go for jogs and get fresh air constantly. When you're exercising, it kind of gets rid of depression. They were great and it did help me.

ESPN.com: You specifically told them you had no interest in prescription drugs. Why?

Bissonnette: That's just temporary. That's just going to make me a robot and get rid of my personality, which is all I have.

ESPN.com: You eventually got a professional tryout with the Arizona Coyotes' AHL team in Portland. How difficult was it when that didn't work out?

Bissonnette: When I got cut, that feeling of depression came back instantly. I felt I needed to act now. I think my agent called a few other teams and could have got a PTO somewhere else for more money. I just called [Kings VP of hockey operations Mike] Futa and handled it myself. At that point, another $10,000-$15,000 meant nothing to me. I needed something now. [Kings general manager] Dean [Lombardi] said, 'Absolutely, just tell him to stay the f--- off Twitter.' I said, 'Deal.'

ESPN.com: No Twitter?

Bissonnette: This organization is not big on it. I don't want to ruffle feathers, especially after what they've done for me. They've given me a second lease on my career. I'll do whatever they want.

ESPN.com: How would you describe the shift to the AHL?

Bissonnette: I was never one of those people who thought, 'Oh, the American league?' Man, I went and played in Cardiff [of the Elite Ice Hockey League] during the [2012] lockout. That league, you could basically call it an organized beer league. It's progressively getting better. They're signing more guys and paying a little bit more.

ESPN.com: Do you miss being Biznasty?

Bissonnette: I find the older you get, the less you care about what other people think. You only care about what the people who are important to you think. I don't really feel like engaging much online anymore.

ESPN.com: What do you think made you so popular on social media?

Bissonnette: I was in Phoenix and [Coyotes GM] Don Maloney was very lenient about it. I think he probably enjoyed the fact that it might put Phoenix on the map in the sense where people who wouldn't have paid attention to Phoenix in the first place were paying attention because they had a guy online basically making fun of fans who were making fun of him. I guess I was the first athlete to really do that. At least the first hockey player to do it. It was genuine. It's how I felt. I was a young punk and I guess I kind of grew out of that where I don't really care so much about it anymore.