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*Official* CBA Negotiations and Lockout Thread

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The 'cattle' description you appear fond in quoting was made as a generality that applied to both sides of the table. 'Expense' was my description as ownership is the the body that has to write a financial statement and players are in reality an expense.

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You don't see labour battles like this in other sports.

Hockey players are warriors.

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? Below is the actual quote. There are a group of owners with representation on one side, and a group of players with representation on the other - which you somehow see as "a generality applied to both sides of that table"?

Devalano's self-depracating "me included" comment doesn't change the Ranch/Cattle analogy, and it's got a false modesty / in cahoots ring to it in any event - he's apparently just an average Joe like the rest of us, but nevertheless, it's not too complicated for him to understand - and he's going to explain the way it 'really' is. That as far as I'm concerned is a patronizing contradiction.

"It's very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand, but having said that, I will tell you this: The owners can basically be viewed as the Ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the Ranch and allow the players to eat there. That's the way its always been and that the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren't going to let a union push them around. It's not going to happen."

I agree with Poetica. You characterize the players response as confrontational and not "collegial" enough, but I think you are denying the context of this lockout.

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Nothing will happen until the results of the vote are known, the NHL is as interested as Fehr to see where the players are at on this. I think this is the last play before an agreement is made. These are smart guys, if the players thought that the season was going to be gone then decertification would have been an opening move rather than a closing move (last pitch to get movement on a deal), it may be transparent as a negotiating tactic but no more so than the "time-limit" offers and a "lockout until we get what we need".

It's an ugly war between two parties who are competing to see who will cut themselves the deepest to get a better deal - terrible business model. I almost wish the players would decert just to change this mess into something different.

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NHL lockout doing ‘alarming’ damage to brand

Wake up, NHL!

The league has a major marketing challenge facing it, whenever it decides to end the current lockout – and the longer it goes on, the worse it will get.

Such are the astonishing – yet, in other ways, not at all surprising – findings of a major survey conducted by Level5 Strategy Group, a survey that took place, significantly, in the slightly calmer period just prior to the recent press-conference histrionics in New York and the league deciding to sue the players’ union to determine, bizarrely, that it is in fact a union.

Level5 is a 10-year-old company based in Toronto that has done “brand” analysis for such major enterprises as the NFL, NBA, 3M Co., Rogers Communications Inc., Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., Second Cup Ltd., BCE Inc., Petro-Canada and many others.

Its expertise lies in in-depth interviews that determine the “emotional attachment” people have to various products.

In the case of the NHL and its players, the abiding feelings of the moment are betrayal at one end of the scale and utter lack of interest at the other. If you’re looking for warm and fuzzy, get out a microscope – or, better yet, switch to curling.

According to Level5 chief executive officer David Kincaid, the survey was conducted not for the benefit of the league but as a tool that might be sold to the multiple corporate sponsors of professional hockey, in order to show what they need to tap into with hockey fans if they hope to regain their former good standing.

It will not be easy.

“We found damage at levels we have not seen,” Kincaid says. “It’s quite alarming, really.

“If anyone thinks that the lockout can end and everyone will come back to Happy Valley, it ain’t going to happen.”

The company’s methodology varies considerably from public opinion surveys. Level5 claims to have mastered its technique through four years of pilot testing involving 30,000 intensive interviews, all geared at determining what basis a consumer has for choosing a particular brand. Obviously, such matters and price and availability play a role, but Level5 maintains the relationship is 50-per-cent emotional.

“The product is part of the person’s identity,” says Kincaid, who previously worked in marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada and was a founding member of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Following the interviews – in the case of hockey, 1,066 people were surveyed – computer programs produce emotional maps called the “emotisphere” that illustrates the good feelings and bad feelings concerning a product.

The maps are divided, pie-like, into eight colour zones – red (fun), yellow (interest), orange (inspirational), brown (knowledgeable), green (trustworthiness), grey (satisfaction), blue (nurturing) and purple (friendliness) – and the farther a core emotion drifts from the centre the greater the concern.

A near-perfect emotisphere would be the Walt Disney Co. brand, the centre almost entirely red and yellow, the only outer concern a slight boredom even among those who generally like and admire Disney.

A disastrous map would be the one Level5 created following the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It was the worst the company had seen – until it got around to the NHL this month.

The first surprise researchers found was passion for the national winter sport has slipped. One-third of Canadians polled consider themselves “passionate” about hockey, one-third is neutral on the topic and one-third has no interest at all.

“It surprised us,” Kincaid says. “If we had done this study 10 years ago, 20 years ago, we would have seen half of Canadians or more say they were passionate about the game.”

They found a lot of males have slipped into “neutrality” about the game – are now bored with hockey talk and feel they no longer relate to the game. Football – both CFL and NFL – is on the rise among those fans, who continue to be interested in sports.

“It’s not a sacred relationship with hockey,” says Behzad Ghotb, who led the analysis for Level5.

When they mapped out those who described themselves as passionate hockey fans, researchers found some core red and yellow feelings, but at the same time significant unhappiness, disappointment, confusion, irritation and frustration.

A great many feel “cheated” by the lockout.

As for neutral fans, the study found no red at all. On the outer edges, where brands don’t wish to be found, the poll found dislike and, tellingly, boredom with NHL hockey.

The emotionally-charged red showed up in the final third, those who described themselves as non-passionate fans of little or no interest. However, the red was in the outer edges of the charts, indicating a significant and strong emotion: disgust.

“Hate can come from love,” Ghotb says. “Anger comes from hurt.”

From a branding point of view, NHL hockey and its multiple corporate sponsors are facing a huge hurdle, Kincaid says. The passionate fans are angry, the neutral fans turned off and bored, the mostly non-fans – the people hockey needs to attract if it hopes to grow – disgusted.

“Think what this means to the sponsors of hockey,” Kincaid says. “For almost one-third of Canadians, you are wasting your time on them. You’ve lost them. They are not going to become even ‘neutral.’”

As for those who do care about the game and still feel cheated, Kincaid says anyone who believes all the NHL has to do is come back and all will go back to as it was should think again.

“It’s about damage control with these people,” he says, “not about action on the ice.”

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lol Survey's lol what a load! People they interview at that moment in time maybe so pi$$ed at the NHL and the NHLPA they say they will never EVER watch hockey again...lol I call BS on those people. There is no way to avoid it. A person may have to change his line up of friends just to ensure he never watches another NHL game lol

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Not only does ownership have deeper pockets but they have time on their side. Their franchises should be in business 50 years from now but the average player only has 5 years.

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My advocacy of the 'collegial' approach over confrontational goes back to the Paul Kelly era. The NHLPA had come off of two 'lockouts' which they viewed as very negative for their players. I completely understand that ownership has instigated all 3 disputes. The players attitude seems to be that if they had a better negociator that the result might have been better for them. IMO it ignores the fundamentally weak negociating position that the players have no matter whether Don Fehr or Larry Goodenow is leading them. Not only does ownership have deeper pockets but they have time on their side. Their franchises should be in business 50 years from now but the average player only has 5 years.

If this is the situation they faced then the Kelly approach might have garnered better results. I admit that we don't know what he would have achieved as Mr. Chelious and Mr. Lindros master minded the coup that disposed Kelly. After the two previous disputes the number one player concern should have been selling their value to the owners. People here get upset when I label the players as a cost to ownership but they are. Saying that is not belittlement or should not be. AS the biggest expense to ownership the players should sell recognition of the value represented by the enormous money spent on them. The NHL has a hugh potential to increase revenue. Owners and players working to do that in a united way has far more potential than the two groups fighting over a few % points. The proof is how much the player's real $ increased during the term of the last CBA.

The downside risk in the 'collegial' approach was that ownership ignored or even took advantage of this approach. If in fact that had happened the players could have 'drawn a line in the sand' in 2012 and had more support built within ownership ranks.

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lol Survey's lol what a load! People they interview at that moment in time maybe so pi$$ed at the NHL and the NHLPA they say they will never EVER watch hockey again...lol I call BS on those people. There is no way to avoid it. A person may have to change his line up of friends just to ensure he never watches another NHL game lol

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Latest buzz is, this "disclaimer of interest" isn't going to work (at least in the courts). Disclaimer of interest is when the union leaves the membership. What we have is the opposite (players voting to leave the union), which is decertification. The only process that will work is decertification, in my opinion.

I'd have to guess that post decertification (45+ days), antitrust could only be filed from period following decertification and not include wages lost previously from the lockout? The only way to really put the pressure on is full decertification and then filing law suits the way the NFL did. If the players proceed with the disclaimer route in court, I would expect them to lose. Gary just loves having all those suits in a court room in NY. You know he is going to take this seriously, because if he loses, he is also out of a (8 million dollar) job! Expect him to snap faster than a Chihuahua guarding a dog bone.

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^^^well Gary is governed/influenced by his former firm, and lawyers need work too. Now lawyers can hail at the influx of work for the coming months. The ordinary course of negotiating surely would have cut into their services prematurely, and considering Gary will need a job after this debacle, what a better way to suck up to your next potential employers then generating them some business. A waste of money in my opinion when every other sport has been able to agree on a CBA, and some without even losing a game. Whats unfortunate as the elitist battle continues, it is the common working class that gets the short end of the stick ie. no work/no hockey, the very same people that help sustain their businesses/paychecks. Again it's all about the mighty dollar and not about the game, the pride, the loyalty.

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It's not just immigrants either. When I go home to Ontario to visit, almost everyone is talking about CFL and MLS, and probably this year there'll be a resurgence in MLB with the Jays hype these days. In addition, every summer I work here in BC with people from all across Canada, generally 20-35yrs of age. Very few follow hockey, and most that do are casual fans.

Hockey can no longer be taken for granted in this country the way it was 20 or 30 yrs ago. Anyone who thinks it can is living in a bubble.

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NHL has an emotional neutrality problem with hockey fans thanks to lockout

Whenever a pundit wants to blame the fans for the NHL lockout, that belief is rooted in the idea that we'll always come back to the League no matter how many work stoppages we suffer through.

Darren Rovell of ESPN went as far as to write that "there will be virtually no consequences from losing a season"; a statement whose abject misunderstanding of hockey fans contradicts the author's standing as a sports marketing expert. A cancelled season would be devastating to the League's momentum in the U.S. and extraordinarily damaging to its standing with Canadian fans, perhaps irreparably so.

Will a Toronto Maple Leafs fan still be passionately engaged if, say, Roberto Luongo comes to town* and backstops the team into the conference semifinals? Of course; much like you might spend the night with an ex if you're ravenous enough.

Doesn't mean the engagement's back on.

The issue for the NHL as this juncture of the lockout isn't how angry the fans are, but how angry they're not.

Hockey is completely off the radar in the traditional sports media in the U.S.; we're talking a 'space probe flying past Pluto' distance from the rest of the ESPN-approved diet of sports talk. Fans that were engaged in the day-to-day of the lockout can no longer stomach it. If you thought apathy ruled the day before, you haven't seen the indifference dueling court filings can foster.

But let's assume the NHL isn't idiotic enough to cancel a second season in seven years and has a 2012- … OK, a 2013 campaign. The challenge isn't calming enraged fans; the challenge is convincing those who have lived their lives NHL free for months to make time and spend money on the League again.

The challenge may be more formidable for the NHL than previously imagined.

Roy MacGregor of the Globe & Mail had a piece on Tuesday that chronicled the work of Level5, a market research firm that tracks the emotions of different consumer bases. Their study covered 1,066 people; what did they find?

From a branding point of view, NHL hockey and its multiple corporate sponsors are facing a huge hurdle, Kincaid says. The passionate fans are angry, the neutral fans turned off and bored, the mostly non-fans — the people hockey needs to attract if it hopes to grow — disgusted.

"Think what this means to the sponsors of hockey," Kincaid says. "For almost one-third of Canadians, you are wasting your time on them. You've lost them. They are not going to become even 'neutral.'"

As for those who do care about the game and still feel cheated, Kincaid says anyone who believes all the NHL has to do is come back and all will go back to as it was should think again. "It's about damage control with these people," he says, "not about action on the ice."

Those "neutral fans" are the ones that we're most worried about. The 'take-it-or-leave-it' types that dip into hockey when there's something to watch — the Winter Classic, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, big rivalry games — but summarily ignore it otherwise.

Here's more evidence from a poll released on Tuesday:

Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians have no interest in the two sides reaching an agreement in the National Hockey League dispute, according to survey results out today. The telephone survey by NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators was completed between December 11th and 16th in six regions across Canada. It includes the responses of 801 individuals.

The survey results, which come out a week after the NHL announced the cancellation of games through to December 30th, also found that 25 per cent of Canadians don't believe the lockout will be resolved in time to salvage a season.

"Canadians are clearly becoming disillusioned with the dispute process," says Brian Owen, CEO and founder of NRG Research Group. "A large majority of us either don't care about a settlement or don't see an end in sight to the negotiations."

As André Richelieu, sports marketing professor at Université Laval, told Canadian Business last month:

It's marketing myopia to believe that because we have the best fans in the world, that they will come back to the NHL. There are other ways to watch hockey; there are other ways to entertain yourselves with sports or other artistic and cultural activities. And already, people are getting accustomed to spending their disposable income on other entertainment options. The biggest danger is that the NHL believes that everything starts and ends with the NHL. That's a recipe for disaster.

… The biggest danger—and this would appear if the season is totally cancelled—is that [the fans'] frustration and anger is transformed into apathy or indifference.

That danger's been realized. Fans don't care.

They're deaf to the back-and-forth between the players and the owners, especially after both sides cried wolf during their last round of intense negotiations. The issues between the two sides have been nebulous in this round of talks — hockey-related revenue, contractual issues, escrow. Now that we've reached the legal wrangling portion of this pathetic standoff, even the most engaged fans are reacting with a yawn and a "wake me when it's over."

What if they're still asleep to the NHL after the lockout ends?

(* C'mon, we all know this is happening, right?)

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why not spend our money on things more important than making sure hockey players get lots of money, and sports owners get lots of money...

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Check the article I posted above about the long-term brand damage they are doing. If this lockout continues, I guess we'll see how true that attitude (by the owners) really is.

I actually understand your point about the players being seen as an expense, but what I don't understand is why the players should have to sell themselves to the owners to begin with. I can see why in other industries, where there's more in between an employee's contributions and the company's bottom line, it's smart for employees to sell themselves to the owners, but the NHL is very different. It's pretty much a straight line between players and revenue, be it in ticket prices or merchandise sales. Shouldn't the owners understand their own business enough to know that the players are the products they sell? Shouldn't they understand that the players are expenses, yes, but expenses that directly generate the revenue? Couldn't players trying to sell their importance to owners just be seen as them trying to inflate their own value for more money, or open them up to even more complaints that they're trying to tell owners how to run their businesses? And again, owners should already know the players' value anyway. If owners actually do have that complete lack understanding of the business they are in, the league has far worse problems than player expenses!

The players' share increased, but so did the owners. In fact, over the previous CBA the owners' share increased significantly more. (There was an article about it in this thread a few dozen or so pages back.) But, I agree, working together to increase the collective pie should be far more important than fighting over relatively small changes to the share of the existing pie. The problem is owners now assume growth will happen no matter what and want to ensure that future growth will be more for them. And, they also want to gain even more control over players, beyond the money, to the point that they can essentially control much of a players' career, which in turns affects their lives and families.

I am curious, though, in all seriousness what else do you think the players can/should do to help them? Owners obviously think it's an insult for players to offer their opinions on the state of hockey business, so what can they do to contribute to the revenue growth more than what they already offer? They play. They do public appearances. They let the NHL use their name and likeness on merchandising. They pose for photos that get sold or turned into posters, calendars, etc. They do charity events that promote the team and league. They do media interviews.

I honestly am trying to understand your stance, but I don't understand why you are holding it against players for not behaving in a way you say is ineffectual anyway. Am I misunderstanding? Why would they do something that wouldn't work in hopes that it would just get more people on their side for some future negotiation? Or if you mean they should have been more "collegial" from the start this time and then moved to a more hardline stance when it didn't work, how would they have done that? How could they be collegial without giving any more than they already have? How much would they have to give to be considered "collegial" and at what point would it be reasonable for them to move to a more hardline approach?

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It's not just immigrants either. When I go home to Ontario to visit, almost everyone is talking about CFL and MLS, and probably this year there'll be a resurgence in MLB with the Jays hype these days. In addition, every summer I work here in BC with people from all across Canada, generally 20-35yrs of age. Very few follow hockey, and most that do are casual fans.

Hockey can no longer be taken for granted in this country the way it was 20 or 30 yrs ago. Anyone who thinks it can is living in a bubble.

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Real_ESPNLeBrun: Steve Fehr reached out to Bill Daly today. Short phone call. But still nothing scheduled in terms of resuming bargaining talks

Ho-hum..........

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