Monday, December 03, 2012

Peter Puck Redux

Back in the 1970s, NBC and CBC employed a cartoon character named Peter Puck to help explain the basics of hockey to kids and novice fans.  Thanks to the current NHL lockout, the two networks have reportedly brought back the talkative black disc to help explain to young viewers the ins and outs of labor disruptions in the world of pro hockey.  Here are some leaked excerpts from a few of the new videos:

Hi, boys and girls.  I’m Peter Puck and I’m going to tell you a little bit about hockey.  Hockey is a game played on ice with five players and a goalie per side.  It’s a fast, exciting sport but there are a number of rules you need to understand in order to fully appreciate the game.  Rules like offsides, icing and the face-off.  But you don’t have to worry about them right now.  Until this lockout is over, you’ll need to learn about a few different things.

Collective Bargaining
Hi, boys and girls.  I’m Peter Puck and I want to tell you all about collective bargaining in  the National Hockey League.  The players and the owners have something called a CBA or collective bargaining agreement.  It’s an agreement where both sides agree to a salary cap which is kind of like when mom and dad say that your allowance can only increase by so much.  Except now the owners say they want a bigger share of all the money that comes in.  There are a lot of complicated provisions in the CBA but all you have to know is the current one recently expired and that’s why there won’t be any NHL hockey this year.

Free Agent
Hi, boys and girls.  I’m Peter Puck and I want to tell you all about free agency in the National Hockey League.  When young players first start playing in the NHL, they don’t have a lot of rights, sort of like when your parents can tell you what to do and you have to do it.  But when a player turns 27 or has seven years in the league, he can then negotiate a new deal with whichever team he wants.  It’s like when you turn 18 and can tell your parents to take a hike except that the players get millions of dollars every year even before they turn 27.

Restricted Free Agent
Hi, boys and girls.  I’m Peter Puck and I want to tell you all about restricted free agency.  It’s really pretty simple.  If a player is not entry-level and not yet an unrestricted free agent but his contract has expired, he becomes what is called a restricted free agent.  That means his team must extend him a qualifying offer.  Other teams can extend an offer sheet and his team can accept or decline.  There are lots of other rules but you don’t have to concern yourself about them now since no one’s playing hockey for the foreseeable future.

Salary Arbitration
Hi, boys and girls.  I’m Peter Puck and I have some more cool information for you about how the CBA works.  Some of you are probably asking what happens when a restricted free agent and his team can’t come to an agreement about salary.  Well that’s when either party can ask for salary arbitration.  Each side proposes a salary and a third person called an arbitrator picks one.  It’s like when you and your parents propose an allowance for you except your proposal never gets chosen.

Viewing Alternatives
Hi, boys and girls.  I’m Peter Puck and I want to help you decide what you can watch this season on TV.  Unfortunately, it won’t be NHL hockey.  But there are lots of other sports you can follow.  Hopefully this lockout will end soon and I can get back to teaching you the fun rules of the fastest sport on ice.  If not, my cousin Peter Rock will be here to teach you all about the second fastest sport on ice: curling.

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