The NHL lockout could be over. Hockey fans have yearned so badly to hear those words for the last few months that we're willing to claw onto any news, from any source, that might indicate peace had been reached in the labor wars.
On Monday, Steve Burton of WBZ-TV in Boston became puckheads' latest beacon of hope. Here's his report from the 10 p.m. news, on what his sources indicate is the impending end of the lockout:
For the video impaired, 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 towards salvaging the hockey season. It's possible that an announcement could come as early as tomorrow or Wednesday."
A few things …
• Burton's not exactly known as your quintessential hockey insider. This isn't to say he doesn't have sources; this is to say that were the lockout about to end, one could probably fill TD Garden with reporters whom you'd expect to break this before Steve Burton. That said: Burton broke the news that Phil Kessel had testicular cancer back in 2006.
• An "an unannounced meeting" with "a high-ranking official from each side" sounds suspiciously like Steve Fehr and Bill Daly sitting down to hash out details. Which either lends this report credibility or makes it seem more pedestrian.
• The denials have rolled in. Sarah Kwak of Sports Illustrated quotes Daly as saying there's "not even a single morsel" of truth in the report. Joe Haggerty of CSN New England's sources also said it's "not true."
s/t Kevin Vahey for the clip.