Almost immediately after I wrote my morning post explaining that the owners offer to the players was not just about PR, the NHL released their offer to the NHLPA on their website. As Elliotte Friedman said…
The NHL puts its full proposal to the NHLPA online. That’s certainly…unprecedented.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 17, 2012
Indeed. For the record, I stand by that morning post. I think the owners are entitled to try to cash in PR-wise on the fact that they are trying to get a deal done.
Still, I don’t necessarily think “PR” is the reason they did it. Another wise hockey soul made a great point about why the NHL may have released the proposal on its website, despite claiming that they don’t negotiate in public:
Pretty obvious why proposal was released: NHL wants players to read its version and not just NHLPA’s take on it….
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) October 17, 2012
That makes sense to me.
I’ve made this point a number of times before: hockey players are hockey players, and they have it ingrained in the fabric of their being that the most important thing is doing what’s best for the team. You’d never see a player step out and say “Fuck it, I’m cool with 49% of hockey related revenues because I don’t want to miss a year of paychecks.” Whether they think that or not, they play it cool and do what’s best for the team.
However, there are times in a hockey season, say, where a scout is at a game and a certain player will look out for number one on occasion. Maybe they’re close to hitting a plateau like 50 goals and they keep a lot over passing. Maybe they’re close to a bonus so they don’t do what’s best for the team during the last game of the season.
There are times where a player will say “I love the team, but man, I gotta do me right now.”
By throwing this offer up on the website, each individual player has a chance to read the NHL’s offer, which is written in plain, hockey-players-can-understand-it language. What that can do is create some behind-the-scenes stirring. Guys calling Fehr saying it looks good to them, guys calling their player reps to put in their two cents, and guys, in general, may start to feel hopeful that the NHL season is not lost.
The NHLPA, undoubtedly, will not like the move. Some of the players won’t either, as seen below:
@real_espnlebrun I must have missed it, but I didn’t catch the proposal in July on the website.
— Logan Couture (@Logancouture) October 17, 2012
Yeahhh, that offer wasn’t quite good enough for public eyes.
They won’t like that it ramps up pressure from the fans, or that it may rile up the players behind the scene. They would’ve been happy with the recent offer, and would’ve preferred that they be able to make a counter-offer before having to feel the heaps of pressure from fans who read the NHL’s offer and go “Kay, looks good to me, what’s your problem NHL?”
But frankly, I don’t think Gary Bettman or the owners are too concerned if the NHLPA is pissed or not. Actually, they probably consider that a bonus.
At this point the NHL has done everything it can to force the PA into making a deal as soon as possible, and for my money, they deserve any PR love they get from that. Pissed off or not, Donald Fehr’s job is to get a good deal done for the players (emotions aside), and I believe he’s capable of doing that.
If anything, it pushes negotiations into overdrive. Elliotte Friedman today wrote about “ZOPA” – the Zone of Potential Agreement, a famous Harvard five-day negotiating course, which according to Daniel Tolensky of Pulver Sports, the NHL has entered.
The NHL and NHLPA will meet tomorrow, and things are going to go in one of two directions. This thing is coming to a head.