Zen master F'an-pai was invited to a CBA meeting to help the players and owners work out their differences.

The owners wanted a hard salary cap. They told F'an-pai that the current economic problems should be blamed on outrageous player salaries. The owners said that the only way to avoid economic hardship, even bankruptcy, was to adopt the hard cap.

The players did not want a hard salary cap. They said that they did not trust the owners to come up with a fair value for the cap. And anyway, it was not about the money, it was about controlling their own lives and futures.

F'an-pai listened carefully to both sides. Then he said: ``When Jose Theodore was a little boy, his mother made him wear a toque while he played hockey outdoors. Now that he is a man, he still wears a toque to play hockey outdoors. His mother no longer tells him what to do; and this ``soft cap'' does not protect his head from the puck. For what reason does he wear it?

By the next morning, the players and owners had signed a new contract.

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