October 17, 2012

Tricksy NHLses...

(Hey, I've called Bettman worse things.)

No more.  Final offer.  They weren't giving anything until the players made a counter offer.

Funny how 24 hours (and a pinhole camera) can make a difference, isn't it?

The discovery that the NHL hired the Frank Luntz corporation (Luntz Global) to massage their message isn't a shock for anyone who has been following...  well, any labour negotiations, really, but sports ones in particular.  But the insider scoop might be a revelation to more casual fans, or those who don't particularly care about that side of the game and just want top level hockey back.

We all know that both sides have been pushing to win the support of the fans, and the NHL owners were WAY behind in that field, with the last lockout still fresh in people's minds.  This time, they weren't able to spin the "greedy players" angle anywhere near so well; when that is combined with the well known fact that the NHL totally dominated the last negotiation, getting almost everything they wanted, and the sympathy was going to be tough to win.  The players, after all, are who the fans want to see.

The owners, on the other hand, had Daryl Katz.  The players really should send him a bouquet or something.

What Katz has realized is that fans vote, and voters really should like you if you're going to ask them to give you money poured out of a dump truck AFTER a deal was negotiated...  Those fans who think they don't matter to the owners, guess what?  Here's proof otherwise.

So knowing you're screwed pretty savagely in the public relations battle leaves fewer options: they could have let rumours and speculation fly around for five days until their next scheduled meeting (which was to be Friday), or they could try getting ahead of the curve and releasing their own proposal despite their insistence they would do no such thing.

As far as a PR move, it was the right thing to do: with the full proposal being released today, people can see for themselves what the offer is.  As for the proposal itself, it's a damn sight better than the utterly ludicrous thing they initially handed out, saying "take it or leave it", a statement they strenuously avoided this time around (apparently, that didn't poll well with fans).

The offer has plenty the players won't like, but that's no surprise: successful negotiation means no one's completely happy.  As a fan, however, there's quite a bit there I like, but the devil is, as always, in the details.  Negotiating in public isn't something the owners like doing, but their hand was forced by this PR leak.  Now the players are negotiating a deal that the NHL can put their spin on, declaring themselves to be the proactive ones.

And for now, they're right.


posted by Thursday at 9:23 am


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