Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hiring Frank Luntz is yet another twitch by the NHL in the lockout standoff

Not much has happen in the month since the owners locked out the players. It would seem as if both sides are in a staring contest waiting for the other to blink.

Although the owners have yet to blink, over the last couple of weeks it looks as if they're developing a severe twitch.

NHL Deputy Commisioner Bill Daly has been parading out financial numbers since this thing began. The first of which was that the teams missed out on $90-100M in revenues from lost preseason games.

Next, after the owners cancelled the first two weeks of the season, Daly comes out last week and says that the NHL was in jeopardy of a cumulative $240M loss without those regular season games.

And the NHL is making sure that the world knows the players are losing out too. Said Daly, 'That's 240 that we both lose. It's not just the league that's losing that money. The players are sharing on some basis in that. Some substantial basis. Whether that's 57 percent, or whether that's 50 percent or whether that's 47 percent. It's some basis and it's a significant basis.'

Yes, that's true, kind of. The players are still receiving checks, for now, via the escrow they paid last season, but we get the point.

And looking at this from last week, it would seem as if the NHL's getting a little antsy, 'We're encouraging [the NHLPA] to make a proposal," said Daly. "We've suggested to them to make the proposal because any movement is better than no movement at all.'

All well and good. The verbiage in the above statement dictates a stronger sense of urgency, but the NHLPA, lead by veteran negotiator Donald Fehr, is sitting back and taking its time. It was said that they have a counter proposal, but Fehr hasn't released it, for whatever reasons he has.

In the meantime, the court of public opinion seems to be on the side of the players in all of this. Fans of the sport saw a giveback by the NHLPA during the last lockout. They're also well aware of the enormous contracts given out to players this past summer all while the league is crying poor.

The NHL doesn't like that, especially when the fans were clearly on their side in 2004. So to steer their campaign in the proper direction they hired Luntz Global to put together a focus group. The group of 30 NHL fans was greeted by Frank Luntz, top-Republican strategist and frequent Fox News contributor. He's the guy who has his focus groups hold that little gadget in their hands for instant positive or negative reaction to what's unfolding before them.

One of the participants of the NHL focus group shared photos of the questionnaire with Deadspin who proceeded to jump all over it. ' Here's a look at the bullshit on the menu before the league serves it to you,' wrote columnist Barry Petchesky as he laid out the forthecoming "propaganda" campaign from the NHL.

Petchesky also gave a little background on the Luntz Group complete with a multitude of links.

The piece stands on it's own so take the time to read it (and in this election year, take even more time to click on the links in the Luntz Global paragraph.)

Whether the focus group is looked upon as more strategy than desperation on the part of the NHL, it does show that they're starting to twitch in this stare down.


TSN is reporting that the NHL put an offer on the table to the NHLPA "which includes a 50/50 split."

No further details were reported as to the length of the agreement, when the 50/50 split begins or whether or not they've come to a definition of hockey related revenue.

Methinks that the leak of the above mentioned focus group helped spur along the process. Methinks also that they will tout this, as noted in the Deadspin piece, as "shared sacrifice."

Without details of the offer, right now public opinion is swaying in the direction of the owners.

Some of the responses (as of 1:05PM) from the TSN article:

  • '50/50 is a great offer and the players should take it - if they refuse, they can kiss the little public support they have goodbye!! Well done NHL!'  +50
  • 'TAKE IT!!!!!!'  +46 
  • '50/50 split and salvage all 82 games. Sounds fair to me. Take it and lets play some hockey' +44
  • 'NHL just made a 50-50 revenue split offer. If they PA doesn't accept this offer I don't know anymore' +35

Once again, there are no details being shown. But it looks as if Luntz has done well for the owners.

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