The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Lockout

Don't Panic

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Lockout is a wholly remarkable book.

It looks rather like a largish sketch pad. It has just one recessed button and a rectangular screen about three inches by six inches on which any one of a million “pages” on the NHL lockout can be summoned and displayed at a moment’s notice. It all looks insanely depressing, and this is one of the reasons why the protective cover it fits into has the words Don’t Panic printed on it in large friendly letters.

Click past the jump into hyperlink space to read some of the entries…

Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

A contractual agreement that governs the relationship between NHL owners and players. This agreement is of such importance that the owners fight tooth and nail over each and every clause, even down to the last comma, and then empower their General Managers to do everything in their power to circumvent it at every opportunity.

Collective Bargaining Agreement


A select group of men that managed to accumulate immense wealth through some sort of statistical anomaly given their apparent inability to achieve any semblance of success running a business. The business world equivalent of Scott Gomez.

Business world equivalent of Scott Gomez

General Managers

People hired by the owners for the sole purpose of undermining and circumventing each clause in the CBA down to the last comma. May not apply in Toronto. Mathematical abilities may vary.

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Incredibly skilled individuals that are willing to give up their livelihood in order to avoid being screwed over by the owners and preserve their contractual rights to continue screwing each other over.


Bettman, Gary

NHL Commissioner. Portrayed as a dictator wielding absolute power, bending disgruntled owners to his will. Nothing can be further from the truth. Too smarmy for the owners’ own good.

Fehr, Donald

Executive Director of the NHL Players’ Association. Portrayed as a figurehead with no real power, only doing the players’ bidding. Nothing can be further from the truth. Too smart for the players’ own good.

Bettman and Fehr

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Hockey Fans

A once thriving sub-species of humans adapted to cold climates, now seen to be in rapid decline. This has nothing to do with global warming.

Hockey fans

Player Agents

Second oldest profession on Earth. Not unlike escrow, player agents take a fixed percentage off the top of each player contract, although in this case there is no chance of the player ever getting any of it back.

Player agents

Hockey Pundits

A bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. Curiously enough, a version of this post that had the good fortune of falling into a time warp from a thousand years in the future defines hockey pundits as “a bunch of mindless jerks that were first against the wall when the revolution came.”

Hockey pundits

Towel, White

Just about the most massively useful thing a hockey fan can carry. For one thing it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth in the cold barren wasteland that is Edmonton, use it for sunbathing on the beaches of Florida (it’s not like you’re going to be down there for the hockey), drape it over your head in shame in Columbus, use it to cry your bitter tears of disappointment in Vancouver (yeah, like you didn’t all do that two years ago), and even to dry yourself off if it still seems clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some inexplicable reason, fans of many sports like to wave a towel over their heads while watching their favourite teams. This is of course impossible during a lockout. So instead, consider these two new uses for your towel: hold it up like a white flag signifying your surrender to the emotional rollercoaster that is the lockout, or just throw it in and move on. Find something else to do and pay no attention to either side.


A semi-regular interruption of the space-time continuum of irregular yet predetermined duration. Lockouts come to an eventual climactic conclusion preceded by periods of intense emotional ups and downs cleverly manipulated by the owners. The key to surviving the vast uncertainty of a lockout is to not think about it. It will be over when it’s over and nothing you do about it will change that. Certainly not holding a protest or signing a petition.


Sit back. Relax. Maybe throw that towel over your head. Whatever you do, DON’T PANIC.


  • That’s the funny thing about the players union fighting so fanatically for particular contract rights: some of them undermine their fellow players (front-loaded contracts) and the GMs usually just find a way to pay the players as much as possible anyways.

    • Graphic Comments

      Hmm. I actually just did the math and I think it turns out that front loaded contracts are potentially worse than flatlined contracts due to escrow effects. Front loads push up player share of HRR, which means more escrow is lost in early years when contract value is high. The share of HRR is evened out later when contracts are below AAV but then the potential refund/bonus on escrow is calculated off lower contract value.

      This is an exaggerated example for effect, but a 5% loss on $10m is more than a 5% gain on $2m.

      All else being equal, you’re likely better off with a flat contract value.

  • Gitagrip

    It occurs to me that there is a class conflict actively brewing within the NHLPA. Curious that a Goalie, top 4 defense and top 6 forwards are actively pursuing a strategy to, in essence, limit the the amount of available HRR pie to the other eleven players on a team. More curious is that the second tier eleven not only don’t mind the top eleven guys taking food off their table, they support the idea whole heartedly. Donnie F has half the players in the league believing that is how labor unions are supposed to work. Half of you get 80% of the pie and the other half…well you can fight over the other 20%. Now that’s union solidarity. Hmmmmmmm…….class dismissed. Thanks for coming.