THIS IS MY favorite time of year in the NHL: A labor dispute leading to a delayed regular season. Every several autumns, lockout lord Gary Bettman turns off the lights at every hockey arena. The intractable NHL commissioner then sits at home and writes in his private journal, better known as The Bettman Diaries.We have obtained a recent week's worth of entries:Monday. I'd rather buy a timeshare from al-Qaeda than spend time with Donald Fehr ... If the players want to be taken seriously, they should start dating Kardashians ... All our arena guys scoffed when I suggested they lease their Zambonis this year ... I'm not going to make the mistake I made last lockout: All calls go to voice mail after 4:15 p.m. ... Frankly, I didn't care much for getting booed the other day at Paul Stuart.Tuesday. I don't care how many "knock knock" jokes you tell Donald Fehr, you can't make that man smile ... "Lockout" sounds too extreme - how about "Closed for Renovations"? ... Here's the difference between the NHL and the NFL: You put a bounty on a guy in our league, it's a five-minute major ... I don't have an anti-Canadian agenda, I just prefer traveling to Tampa Bay and Nashville and Phoenix in the winter ... Hoping three lockouts in 19 seasons gets me into Guinness Book of World Records.
Wednesday. Donald Fehr is now bringing his brother Steve to negotiations - what, that whole family was raised by Teamsters? ... On my worst day, I always remind myself: If I had stayed at the NBA, I'd still be standing behind David Stern at every news conference ... Fondest memory of the 1994-95 lockout: Eating S'mores with the kids while watching "Murder, She Wrote" on CBS ... Yeah, yeah, yeah: Clint Eastwood talking to an empty penalty box. Very funny ... Hey, if you miss icing, watch "Cake Boss."Thursday. Donald Fehr? I guess they couldn't raise Cesar Chavez from the dead ... It has been almost 20 years and I still mispronounce "organ-EYE-zation" ... I take a lot of flak from all sides, but nobody remembers the NHL commissioner before me and nobody will remember the guy after me ... I still can't believe we hoodwinked Comcast/NBC into a 10-year, $2 billion deal - we were about to sign with YouTube for free ... If the Winter Classic is shelved, it's not like we canceled New Year's Eve or anything.Friday. I remember Hyman Roth saying, "This is the business we've chosen." Sure, but I'd choose to deal with Michael Corleone rather than Donald Fehr ... I supposed I won't have to attend the ESPYs next year ... Just glanced at last year's standings, and for the life of me, I can't remember when we put a team in Carolina ... My wife finally convinced me to take "oversaw only completely canceled season in North American professional sports history" off my resume ... Why does Ed Hochuli keep calling me?Saturday. I'll know Donald Fehr is serious when he grows a negotiations beard ... Maybe Jay-Z could help get the New Jersey Devils to move to Brooklyn ... Floated idea to players association about switching from planes to trains for cost savings - you would've thought I asked 'em to add a fourth period to every game ... I'd buy Nero's fiddle if it were on eBay ... I seriously considered majoring in hotel administration when I was at Cornell. Big Conrad Hilton fan.Sunday. I'll bet Donald Fehr laughed when I sang "Call Me Maybe" on his answering machine ... When our games used to be on Versus, I couldn't even get a table at Per Se ... If we're going to keep negotiating, can we please get catering from somewhere other than Tim Horton's? ... I gave the doorman in my building $20 and he wired my cable box to get NBA League Pass at no cost ... God help me, I miss Bob Goodenow.Ask The SlouchQ. Does the fact that "Tony Kornheiser" is an anagram for "Orneriest Honky" suggest there is a God or what? (Chris Reed; San Diego)A. Ironically, I believe Kornheiser is an atheist.Q. A quarterback gets 3.5 seconds in the pocket and then he gets sacked. How many seconds does Toni (a.k.a. She Is The One) give you? (Mitch Hendricks; Maple Heights, Ohio)A. To be perfectly honest, every single time I never see her coming.Q. Does NFL Network's Mike Mayock get paid by the word? (Robert Keith; Potomac, Md.)
A. Actually, I believe he is paid by the syllable.Q. Your Teams of Destiny - the Saints and the Broncos - have that also-ran feel. What's your excuse this time? (Ben Landsberg; Charleston)A. I have only finite wisdom and, frankly, sometimes it lets me down.Q. In order to be ruled a catch, do I have to have a fish in my possession and both feet clearly on the deck, or can the fish just "break the plane" of my boat? (Bob Lynch; Albany, N.Y.)A. Pay the man, Shirley.You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!