The Deadspin story heard around the hockey world continued to reverberate on Tuesday as NHL fans got an eye-opening chance to peek behind the curtain at what the league is doing to manipulate public sentiment in their favor during the lockout.
The story detailed a marketing firm led by world-renowned strategist Frank Luntz, and their attempts at the NHLs behest to devise a marketing plan for the league. The aim is simple: to find a message that will tap into fans emotions and help gain public support for the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the group of 30 owners during the work stoppage.
While some have jumped to the support of the NHL and claimed that every major corporation does this kind of focus group studying just as a similar group glossed over the NHLs ridiculous first CBA offer as simple a part of the negotiating process it once again makes the NHL look like rank amateurs. Rather than serious attempts to end the work stoppage through tireless negotiating and dozens of creative offers from both sides, the story shows a league that would rather attempt to gain public support through spin and clever subterfuge than actually solve the problem.
Even if that accusation is perception more than reality, the public is looking at this story as a clumsy attempt to hornswaggle the public rather than making genuine efforts for real solutions to start the season.
The Deadspin story set off NHL players all over the social media world as one might expect. Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was one of the vexed and vocal group of players, and chimed in via his Twitter account while playing in the Czech League:
Can we please focus on getting on the ice instead of trying to fool our fans! We care about sport more than spin.deadspin.com5951872inside Andrew Ference (@Ferknuckle) October 16, 2012
Perhaps this story will finally convince the NHL that the lockout isnt doing their business any favors. In fact, the best public relations move the NHL could make would be to negotiate in good faith and attempt to find some middle ground with the NHLPA -- as it appears they've tried to do today.
Hat tip to boston.sportsthenandnow.com for pointing us toward the Ference twitter remarks.