Point/Counterpoint: Secret Negotiations

Courtesy of the Sporting News

Welcome to another edition of Point/Counterpoint, where a pair of Flyers Faithful scribes square off about all things hockey related. This week, Kim P. and Craig F. will discuss the pros and cons of the NHL and NHLPA’s recent “secret” negotiations.

Point: Kim P.

The latest round of talks between the National Hockey League and its players’ union have been rather secretive, at least compared to previous meetings. The two sides have met recently in undisclosed locations, and any information from those meetings that have been made public have been very, very brief. Keeping things private is a smart move for both the league and the players, for a few reasons.

The NHL has had a few public relations blunders over the course of these negotiations. First, they hired a PR company to try and sway the public’s opinion of them in a positive light. When the story leaked, the majority of public opinion was more negative than it had been before. Then, it came out that several owners had allowed team personnel to speak to their players — something that had previously been forbidden — in order to try and get them to accept the league’s latest proposal. Again, that move didn’t go over so well with the fans.

Of course, it’s a business and that comes first. But, yes, public opinion is very important and despite the fact that plenty of fans will “come back” when the game does, there are others who will not, and both the league and the players should do what they can to prevent that. So keeping facts from the meetings hidden from the public is a good way to at least try to prevent any more PR mishaps, from either side.

Along with that, letting only a few details about the meetings slip only makes the public want to hear more. Knowing that the two sides are meeting has fans anxiously awaiting any news whatsoever, so they’ll jump at the chance to read about anything. Maintaining interest from the public is really important for a league that hasn’t played a game since June 11. If the NHL continues to drop a few bread crumbs every few days, the fans will follow like James Woods chasing after the candy in his guest spots on “Family Guy.”

And really, the public doesn’t need to know everything. As desperate as hockey fans are for any news whatsoever, the league and the players have every right to release information they find necessary to release and keep the rest private. It honestly kills me to say it, but the fans are lucky they’re even hearing anything about these negotiations. They could be getting nothing at all.

Counterpoint: Craig F.

The league is a business and some things need to be kept private, but what does that do for the fans?

It’s not fair to keep any sport’s fans out of the loop, especially a sport where the fans have already suffered through a lockout that canceled an entire season. Why should we, as NHL fans, not believe that it’s just going to happen again? Why shouldn’t we assume the rest of the season is going to be canceled?

The fans should know, whether it’s positive or negative, what’s going on in the negotiations. Other leagues are allowed to keep a lot of matters private, but they have a lot more ground to do so than the NHL. If this league shuts down for an entire season again, the fans have a right to know why. Should we let the two sides keep everything private so when another season is lost to negotiations we are left in the dark with a small fear that is could happen again for a third time in the near future?

By letting out a lot of the information that is going on in these meetings fans can come to their own conclusions and decide who deserves what labels. If someone has played a key role in essentially locking out the sport for an entire year, they should be recognized for their selfishness and be treated as so by the public. A sport that is loved in both the United States of America and Canada shouldn’t be stopped by a few greedy individuals. If it is, why shouldn’t those individuals have their name mentioned as to why the league is locked out?

There are reasons why things need to be private and it a lot of it has to do with business relations. However, a business at least produces a product and the NHL isn’t doing that right now. You lose your benefits when you don’t do your job.