The NHL lockout is on and the public relations battle is kicking into high gear.
Both the NHL and some of its players are starting to reach out to their fans.
Some high-profile players, like Sidney Crosby, have taken to Youtube to talk to fans.
“The competition – that’s what I love about the game,” Crosby said. “That’s what drives you and that’s why you love to play.”
Some players have said it’s unfortunate the business side is getting in the way of the game. Leafs goalie James Reimer reiterates that it doesn’t have to be this way.
“You don’t need to have a lockout,” Reimer said. “We can keep playing and bargain at the same time, but that’s not what the owners want to do. They want to lock out and use it as a tactic.”
The NHL is also talking to fans through its website, saying it’s committed to negotiating around the clock.
The teams have started to figure out how to give money back. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres promised refunds if that’s what fans choose. The leafs have said they will give a monthly refund with one per cent interest as games are cancelled.
The league could start to announce this week the cancellation of the first pre-season exhibition games.
The league and players’ union went back and forth over the past several weeks.
Now that things have ground to a halt, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, who is in New York covering the negotiations – or lack thereof – tells us what is next.
“Nothing, I think you’re in a staring contest worth a few billion dollars,” Grange said. “I would suggest that from the NHL’s point of view, it’s up to the players to indicate they’re ready to make a deal.”
With the two sides still far from an agreement, he says it’s difficult to predict when the two sides will finally come to a deal.
“It’s sort of like if you can imagine a prize-fight, the owners are the heavyweights, they are the favourites, they have all the advantages,” Grange said.
“The players are the lightweights, they’re trying to move and jab and keep them off balance and hopefully they can keep them off balance.”
Revenue sharing, front-loaded contracts and the salary cap have been the major issues keeping the two sides apart.
The players want a bigger piece of the proverbial pie while the league doesn’t want to give up any more.
The league wants shorter contracts while the players want more money.
This is the the fourth time in 20 years that the NHL is embroiled in a work stoppage.