NHL Newest Offer Is A Starting Point and PR Move, Nothing More

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.



1 Comment on "NHL Newest Offer Is A Starting Point and PR Move, Nothing More"

  1. Yet the reality is that most people will never know any of this – the NHL is counting on it.

    Of the people who do know this, the vast majority (95+%) will stop caring once hockey is back in NHL arenas – the NHL is counting on that too.

    The remaining 5% of the people who know and care will still probably watch NHL games and many will buy jerseys and memorabilia – the NHL knows this.

    In the end, I am pissed off that spin machines get involved at all. However, if I were the spin machine, then I tell the truth, and the truth is this:

    The NHL is a failing commodity as far as sports go. Blame it on the commish, blame it on the lack of perceived diversity amongst its players (black kids in Chicago aren’t watching the Blackhawks), or blame it on the fact that the vast majority of people in the United States will never be able to afford to play hockey (its a frickin expensive sport, even for most middle income families). Doesn’t matter what you blame it on, because it wasn’t long ago that the NHL was considered in the “Big Four” sports in the USA (back when Federov was wearing the ugliest god damned skates in hockey)…now it is behind NASCAR (which isn’t and never will be a sport – that’s for another day though).

    If I am the spin machine for the owners, I point out the fact that the owners carry the risk going forward (i.e. it wouldn’t surprise me if the league has to reasonably talk about contraction at some point in the not so distant future irrespective of what their revenue projections are today – and definitely irrespective of what the players union’s projections are today). The players carry no real business risk going forward, other than spending the money they do make on shit they don’t need. The chances of a player getting injured and losing his ability to earn an income from the NHL won’t change with a new CBA – so the business risk there doesn’t change with a new CBA. I also point out the fact that in the grand scheme of things, a bunch of big ass dudes get paid pretty frickin well to put blades on and slap at rubber for 60 minutes every other night. Is it baseball money? Nope, and its never gonna be either – and that’s true even if they get a new commish that knows his ass from his elbow, and has the common sense not to bitch about the taste of his wheaties after he shits in the bowl.

    Should the players try to get the best deal possible – yep, because the average career of an NHL player is short, thus their money making potential is limited. Should the owners try to stunt the growth of the power that is the players union – yep, because it affects their bottom line, and in the end this is business as much as it is “sport”. Does that mean that the fans get screwed in the meantime – yep.

    In the end it is billionaires (or at least multi multi millionaires) arguing with millionaires over the kind of money that Joe Hockey Fan won’t see collectively after 30 years of manual labor. Same as every other sport.

    If the owners were serious about appeasing their fans, they would fire king douche bag, hire a guy with common sense, and collectively bargain with the facts as they actually stand. People can appreciate honesty – they can’t appreciate spin (at leasts the ones that know it is spin can’t appreciate it).

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