It was leaked by Deadspin on Monday that the NHL had retained the services of noted political spin artist Frank Luntz of Luntz Global, one of the GOPs top PR men.
Luntz had run a focus group of “average NHL fans” in the Washington DC area and these participants leaked the information to Deadspin and the word in the hockey world was that the NHL was trying to find the best way to win the fan’s opinion and it appeared to backfire.
However, in the meeting, it was determined that the fans just want to see hockey and mostly blame the owners for not playing “fair” and 50/50 split of revenue seems fair. Then in what was originally thought as damage control, the NHL came out with a proposal that was 50/50 split on Tuesday and addressed major other issues and talked about just working together to get an 82 game season in to please the fans.
Most of the hockey loving world rejoiced as this seemed to be a major hurdle cleared and it looked like the NHL would be starting up soon. Then rumors started to leak about the CBA offer by the owners and it seemed like they were looking for concessions that were fair but still favored them and that the Players could possibly live with this offer.
That is exactly what the NHL wanted. This was not damage control, this was spin, dictated by Frank Luntz. Donald Fehr, negotiating for the NHLPA spoke with the players and they basically all agreed that this offer was the first time they feel there is something to negotiate instead of just the owners asking for the moon. And that is what will happen, they can negotiate, but this is not the “fair” deal the fans said would make them happy, but a lie that was proposed as a “fair” deal.
In this deal, the owners offer to split revenue with the players 50/50. However, they are removing part of what is considered hockey revenue first. The players seem to be willing to lose 7 more percent of revenue if it was calculated the same way, leaving them with the true 50/50 split of the pie.
The way the NHL proposed this deal to spin public opinion in their favor was the same as a two people splitting a candy bar, down the middle…but down the middle after the first person takes a bite out of it. So instead of getting 50% of the former 100% of Hockey revenues, the NHL Players would be receiving 50% of 85% of the former revenues, or back to the 43-44% share the owners originally offered.
Splitting of the money is the big issue as it seemed most of the other issues are workable, if not slight changes to them, however trying to hide how you take more money is not going to help the owners win the public opinion poll and with so many hockey writers having nothing else to do besides pick apart the CBA offer, it is surprising the NHL tried this blatant PR move in the first place. Their good will only lasted 12 hours before everyone realized Gary Bettman was still playing the part of scumbag.
The other major issue the players had was asking for a third party arbitrator to review suspension appeals, as the process now is that the NHL reviews the appeal and almost never changes it. So, the NHL included this “concession” to the players…but in thier own slimey way. The only way an independant party can alter the ruling is with a “clearly erroneous” decision that was made.
Basically, it removes the second guessing of Brendan Shannahan, as an arbitrator would not be able to reduce a suspension form 5 games to 2, but could only change it if Shannahan made a HUGE mistake and there should be no suspension at all, which is never the problem. Once again, it was the NHL trying to spin public opinion their way and not actually trying to work out a deal.
Most of the players will be working towards getting a deal done with a counter off to this current offer from the owners, and if the owners are willing to split the revenue 50/50, calculated they way it used to be, then the end is in sight. But if the owners are only willing to try to scam the players, be prepared for more games to be cancelled quickly.