The NHL has clearly been losing the PR battle to this point in the CBA negotiation process as players, NHLPA members, fans and the media are having considerable difficulty discerning the leagues motivation -- besides something akin to a money grab.
The league seems to understand this so it made its plea directly to the fans on the first official day of the lockout by posting the following message on all 30 of their team websites, in which they pledge their commitment to negotiating around the clock. Of course this happens after the league opted not to continue talks with the NHLPA on Saturday hours prior to the lockout deadline.
Heres the message from the league as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ushers in his own version of a hat trick, the third work stoppage of his career running the NHL:
Despite the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Hockey League has been, and remains, committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the Players and to the 30 NHL teams.
Thanks to the conditions fostered by seven seasons under the previous CBA, competitive balance has created arguably the most meaningful regular season in pro sports; a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year; fans and sponsors have agreed the game is at its best, and the League has generated remarkable growth and momentum. While our last CBA negotiation resulted in a seismic change in the Leagues economic system, and produced corresponding on-ice benefits, our current negotiation is focused on a fairer and more sustainable division of revenues with the Players -- as well as other necessary adjustments consistent with the objectives of the economic system we developed jointly with the NHL Players Association seven years ago. Those adjustments are attainable through sensible, focused negotiation -- not through rhetoric.
This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room. The League, the Clubs and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans.
No talks are planned between the NHLPA and NHL on Sunday, but both sides have pledged to keep the lines of communication open as the lockout drags into the scheduled preseason.