Hockey fans don't care about the PR war going on between the NHL and NHLPA during the lockout, but trying to win this battle has produced some funny and embarrassing moments.
Both sides of this work stoppage have tried to convince fans that their side's positions on the issues are correct. But thus far, fans have blamed both sides for the mess that the league currently finds itself in.
We have seen a number of poor PR moves throughout this lockout, so let's take a look at a few of them.
League Releases Full Proposal
The league thought it made a solid offer, especially with its new "make whole" provision, which was going to help control player salaries but not force the NHLPA to accept another rollback.
When the offer was available to the public, it was clear that the "make whole" provision didn't sound as good as the NHL made it seem when it was presented to the players.
The union was not impressed with the "make whole" provision, and the issue continues to be one of the focal points of negotiations to this day.
No CBA offers have been made public since this decision by the NHL, and we should expect that to continue.
Players Insulting Gary Bettman
Many hockey fans already did not approve of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before the lockout, so there's really no reason for the players to continue to insult him every time the league rejects a proposal made by the NHLPA.
You may not think that the players' criticisms of Bettman are PR moves, but one reason they go to Twitter and make these kinds of comments is to assure fans that they want to play and the owners (at least the majority of them) don't.
Veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray clearly wasn't happy with how the NHLPA's most recent CBA offer was received by the league.
Many times when the players have criticized the league, its owners or Bettman, they have said things they shouldn't have (via TSN).
Kris Versteeg tells @tsn1050radio in Toronto that Bettman and Daly are "cancers" that have been "looting this game for far too long."— TEAM Radio (@TEAM1040) November 19, 2012
Fans understand that the NHL isn't being a good negotiation partner, so the players don't need to keep reminding us.
NHLPA Sends Letter to Canadian Parliament
The NHLPA's decision to send the Canadian Parliament a letter about their negotiations with the NHL wasn't a smart move.
Jimmy Murphy of ESPN Boston summed up this move perfectly.
Again props to NHLPA for their compromise and efforts today but that letter to Canadian parliament was pure PR stunt. Stay focused on deal!— Jimmy Murphy (@MurphysLaw74) November 21, 2012
In the end, there's really only one way for the NHL and NHLPA to win the PR battle, and that's to be the side responsible for ending the lockout and allowing the 2012-13 season to be played.
The group that accomplishes this will win the PR battle and the support of the fans. Anyone who has followed this lockout closely would probably predict that the players will win this lockout's PR battle.
However, if another year is lost due to the lockout, nobody is winning the PR battle because there are no excuses for another cancelled season.