FAQ: NHL lockout

There are many questions surrounding the current lockout in the NHL. We know players can have no contact with team personnel or use team facilities in any manner. And we know players are not paid during this period unless they finished last season injured. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the lockout:

Q: Can any player that signs overseas return immediately when the NHL lockout is over?

A: Yes. Whether they play in Europe or Russia, all contracts should have an out clause if/when the NHL returns.

Q: If the NHL has a shortened season will the schedule be re-done or just picked up from the new start date?

A: It will undoubtedly be re-done since teams probably won’t have the same amount of games left on their schedule and most certainly not the same amount against common opponents, etc. For example, the Blackhawks play the Wings, Jackets and Predators all within the first couple weeks of the season but don’t play the Blues until Dec. 9. There would undoubtedly be an odd number of games left within the division if the season was shortened but the schedule remained unchanged. Plus, arenas could be booked with new events on previous hockey dates so a total overhaul will be required.

Q: It’s known that injured players get paid and can use team facilities and see team doctors. Can they come off injured status during the lockout or are they there for the duration?

A: Yes, they can come off, but how they are cleared is a little unclear. Daniel Carcillo, recovering from a knee injury, called it a “gray area.” Expect him to be cleared by team doctors and join his teammates in “locked out” status. Players recovering from concussions such as Steve Montador and Marian Hossa are in an even grayer area. Since they cannot take contact during this period expect them not to be cleared and to be in “injured status” until the end of the lockout.

Q: Which teams might benefit from a shortened season?

A: Though there will be less games overall there’s a good chance the schedule will be condensed. Common thinking is that younger teams might be more prepared for the rigors of that kind of season but ESPN.com’s Craig Custance talked with general managers recently and they said it’s the teams that have the most continuity that might have the most success. That could be good news for Chicago. No team had less turnover to their roster than the Hawks, adding just two players and one assistant coach.

Q: Can players be sent down to the minors to play during the lockout?

A: Any player eligible for the AHL had to be sent down before the lockout began. The Hawks sent down all players who didn’t have to clear waivers to play in the minors including Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Nick Leddy and Brandon Saad, among others. Only those NHL-type players already on the Rockford roster can play in the AHL until the lockout is over.

Q: If the season is canceled, what does that mean for contracts?

A: If last time around in 2004-2005 is any indication then a year does indeed come off each player’s contract. So Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, for example, would have two years left on their deals. Viktor Stalberg would be a free agent, as would several other Hawks whose contracts would be expiring, including Bryan Bickell and Marcus Kruger.

Q: How will Blackhawk ticket refunds/exchanges work once they start canceling regular season games?

A: The Hawks detail this on their website in regards to all season ticket plans as well as individual ticket holders. Refunds will be available for all games canceled and even if they are re-scheduled ticket holders will be able to receive a refund or potentially exchange the ticket for another night. For example, if you had a ticket for opening night on Oct. 13 but opening night is now Dec. 13 and you can’t make it, you’ll be given a refund or a ticket to another game. Go to Blackhawks.com for more information.