Twitter can be a useful tool for anyone in search of insight. This applies to a lot of things including the NHL CBA negotiations.
At the start of the bargaining process, the NHLPA was tweeting photographs of its players at NHLPA meetings. We saw the likes of Jason Spezza, Michael Cammalleri, Rick DiPietro and Steven Stamkos dressed in suits and gathered around conference room tables. The images were congenial and amiable; cooperative and hopeful. The players looked committed and unified in their quest for an equitable resolution.
This, of course, was all by design.
Twitter has now revealed a dramatic shift in the NHLPA's strategy. Rather than continue on with the positive imagery and the toned down rhetoric, the NHLPA has gone on the offensive by adopting a decidedly disagreeable tone to its public communications. Today, we saw tweets questioning Gary Bettman's honesty, accusations that the League has nefarious intentions and an allegation that the NHL is "losing its mind". Here are some of these tweets:
It remains to be seen whether this migration to a new and more contentious PR strategy will benefit the NHLPA. Prior to posting these tweets, its seemed that fans were sensitive to the players' complaint that the NHL was not proposing a fair and equitable deal. Despite owners getting their new cap system in 2005 together with a 24% rollback, which they alleged they needed to fix a broken business model, they have nevertheless once again called for a dramatic reduction in the players' share of revenue.
While always difficult to gauge, it did seem that last week public opinion was perhaps slightly in favour of the players. Does that remain the case today in light of these tweets? Tough to say. However, it is possible that some fans may not react positively to these types of tweets. Let's not forget that both sides clearly stated at the outset that their intention was not to negotiate in public. Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman have, in fact, done an admirable job in keeping things civil.
Of late, though, we have seen the Union make statements that represent a departure from its generally unemotional and reserved approach to things.
In the grand scheme of things, these tweets may turn out to be insignificant. However, and more importantly, it is what they represent - potentially a step in the wrong direction.