NHL players and owners appear at a standstill in negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement with a lockout set to begin this weekend, as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman got unanimous vote of support from the board of governors to shut down the league for the third time since 1994.
While it's unclear which side may be winning when it comes to the negotiations -- or lack thereof -- there's no doubt which side is winning when it comes to getting its message out on social media.
Players have made a concerted effort to solicit support from fans via Twitter -- engaging fans with Q&A sessions, sending messages seeking and thanking them for their support and retweeting stories, blogs and columns that support their side in the talks.
Carolina center Tim Brent was direct and to the point:
Believe what you will, but I don't lie when I say we DO care about our fans. We DO want to play the game we love and don't want a lockout
— Tim Brent (@Brenter37) September 14, 2012
Several players like Joffrey Lupul of the Maple Leafs and Buffalo center Steve Ott took Bettman to task directly.
I don't see why Gary thinks its in leagues best interest to try to turn the public against the same players that the league has to market.
— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) September 13, 2012
Fans remember Players are Fans too, we all grew up with the same dream. Question is do you think Bettman is a Fan?
— Steve Ott (@otter2nine) September 14, 2012
No word on this offer from Phoenix left wing Paul Bissonnette:
And I would take a pay cut if owners would lower ticket prices for all the loyal fans like you @amazingjr87. But they won't.
— Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0) September 13, 2012
The players let it be known -- at least on Twitter -- that they stood as one.
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) September 13, 2012
10 hours of meetings the last two days. A lot of info. Great to see 283 players be apart of this #theplayers
— Milan Lucic (@MilanLucic4) September 13, 2012
Gary Bettman did have an official Twitter account but deleted it in the past week. The only tweet on the official NHL account in response to Thursday's talks was a pitch to view the league's Pinterest account.
— NHL (@NHL) September 14, 2012
The recent stay in New York wasn't all business or pleasure. Players and management from the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings found common ground at Ground Zero. They visited the site with a memorial plaque honoring former team scouts Garnett "Ace" Bailey and Mark Bavis, who were killed when United Flight 175 was crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Team president Luc Robitaille and governor Tim Leiweke visited the site on Wednesday. Several players tweeted their thoughts using the hastag #acemark after their visit on Thursday.
— Kevin Westgarth (@KWesty19) September 13, 2012
The plaque -- which depicts Bailey and Bavis and a team photo of the 2012 Stanley Cup champions -- bears an inscription that reads: "From your friends at the L.A. Kings. You were with us every step of the way.”
— dustin brown (@DustinBrown23) September 13, 2012
— Kyle Reed (@BajaChasr) September 13, 2012