While the NHL and NHLPA work out their differences in a boardroom, the league has hired outside help to find out how the labour dispute is affecting fans.
The NHL has hired marketing research firm Luntz Global to perform the research. Luntz Global is run by Frank Luntz, a pollster who has advised the likes of George W. Bush and Stephen Harper.
Luntz Global ran a focus group Friday of 30 NHL fans to gauge their reaction to images of hockey and statements related to the league's labour dispute.
According to a report from Deadspin, the focus group was also used to test pro-ownership messages.
Luntz himself delivered mock speeches, pretending to speak as a league representative, to see how the group would respond to certain rhetoric, the report says. One phrase was repeated as a slogan for the owners: "Shared sacrifice."
Luntz issued a statement Monday night responding to the report:
"Material from a focus group I conducted was made public earlier today in an attempt to discredit efforts by the NHL to reach an agreement with the players on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"The research was no different from what I and others in my field have done for sports teams, sports leagues, and players' unions for many, many years.
"The objective: to understand exactly what fans think and precisely what they want. In this case, the fans were very clear: they want the teams and the union to reach an agreement quickly so that they can get the hockey they want and deserve."