SBJ/September 24-30, 2012/Labor and Agents

App keeps NHLPA members up to speed

During the NHL lockout, NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Don Fehr is working to keep players unified, involved and informed about developments through tried and true methods that he has used for decades, but the union also is using new technology, including an app it created for players’ mobile devices.

The NHLPA developed the mobile app with Kanata, Ontario-based Vayyoo, a mobile application and solutions company for businesses. It was initiated four months ago.

Vayyoo developed the app for the NHLPA.
“We launched the mobile app because we know all the players have smartphones,” said NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon. “The nice thing about the app is we can reach guys wherever they are. Nothing beats face to face, but being able to get information to players in a quick and effective manner is obviously a positive for the association.”

The NHL locked players out just after midnight Sept. 16 after the league’s collective-bargaining agreement expired. Fehr has worked to keep the hockey union’s 740 members informed, including developing new ways to reach those who can’t attend meetings with frequent updates.

Neither Weatherdon nor Shailesh Kaul, CEO of Vayyoo, would say how much the app cost the NHLPA, but a source in the application development industry said similar apps could cost anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000. Vayvoo has been working with the NHLPA for over a year to develop ways for the union to communicate with members.

Vayyoo has not had to make adjustments since the app was launched four months ago, and no one at Vayyoo sees the information on it, Kaul said. “During negotiations as sensitive as this, an enhanced, rapid exchange of multimedia information is essential,” Kaul said.

The app can handle video as well as memos updating players on negotiations and news stories about the lockout.

“You basically click it on your phone,” said Chris Campoli, a free agent defenseman who most recently played for the Montreal Canadiens and is a member of the NHLPA’s negotiating committee. “It’s got the NHLPA logo. There are a lot of guys on it. They love it.”

Campoli noted the app is just one way the NHLPA, under Fehr, keeps the players informed of what is going on. The union has its own password-protected website, called The Source, for union information, and players also receive emails updating them on negotiations and other lockout-related matters. For example, last week, the NHLPA sent a memo to players informing them that the NHL had canceled their health insurance and other forms of coverage on Sept. 16, but also notifying them that the union was picking up the cost of the premiums so the insurance was continued.

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