Well, I think we're probably in unanimous agreement around here that we hope Channel 4's Steve Burton is correct and, spurred by a secret meeting Monday, the NHL lockout could end in the next couple of days. The winter doesn't feel right absent the best hockey has to offer.
But the lingering question is this: Since no one with stronger established ties to the NHL is corroborating what Burton said on the Monday's 10 p.m. newscast -- and some are shooting it down -- is there a snowball's chance in Phoenix of the report proving wholly accurate?
First, here is what Burton said:
"Today is Day 79 of the NHL lockout. A select group of owners and players are scheduled to meet tomorrow in New York. My sources tell me that an unannounced meeting was held today with a high-ranking official from each side and significant progress was made toward salvaging the hockey season. It's possible that an announcement could come as early as tomorrow or Wednesday."
Burton then segued into an interview with Milan Lucic from the Joe Andruzzi Foundation's "New England Celebrities Tackle Cancer Gala'' Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
I'm not about to speculate about Burton's sources. Presumably, or perhaps naively, they should be strong and have his complete trust given that his report ran three minutes into the newscast. And he has broken Bruins news before, most notably regarding Phil Kessel's cancer diagnosis in 2006.
But it cannot be ignored that at the moment, Burton remains the lone wolf reporting this -- that is, unless you want to count comedian Lenny Clarke, who was also in attendance at the Andruzzi event last night and according to his comedian pal Jimmy Dunn .. well, you read it:
Take that for what you wish -- whether that's a real clue that this is about to be over or simply gossip that inevitably emerges from a good time.
But keep in mind -- above all else -- that reporters who make their living and their reputations by covering the NHL have not been able to substantiate any of this yet:
Asked if there was ANY MORSEL of truth to WBZ report that deal is imminent, B.Daly: "Not even a single morsel..." Great. And now I'm hungry.— Sarah Kwak (@SI_sarahkwak) December 4, 2012
Three separate sources, closely involved with #NHL CBA process on all sides, say reports of potential settlement are without basis— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) December 4, 2012
TSN's Bob McKenzie, who knows his way around a scoop, used more than 140 characters to respectfully elaborate on Burton's report and what he's hearing:
Getting a LOT of questions about a Boston-based report suggesting a significant breakthrough/possible deal to end lockout. Here's my take:— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 4, 2012
If I had info to that effect, I'd have reported it. I don't have that info and I didn't report it. I have no knowledge of any breakthrough.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 4, 2012
As of this moment, I don't believe the lockout is any closer to ending than it was, say, on Sunday. We'll see what happens today in NYC.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 4, 2012
I try not to be in the business of shooting down someone else's report. I always allow that person may have better info than me. Or not.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 4, 2012
So, just to be clear, I'm not saying the Boston report is untrue or not accurate. I'm saying I can't get info to support it. That's all.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 4, 2012
But the clearest perspective may have been provided by The Hockey News's Adam Proteau:
When the NHL lockout actually ends, few will care who broke the story. Quick -- who was first to report the 04-05 lockout was over? Exactly.— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) December 4, 2012
It's true. Few, especially outside of the media bubble, will care about who gets the scoop on the lockout's eventual end -- they'll just care that it's over.
Burton is yet to return a message seeking comment, but it's fair to assume he must care about the credit.
Because by saying it could come "as soon as [Tuesday] or Wednesday," he's put a loose deadline on his own credibility.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.