Sources Say....

If you asked me to come up with a story off the top of my head about the NHL lockout, it would probably look something like, 'A friend of mine who knows a guy whose cousin's friend is involved with the CBA negotiations told me that there is a deal in place to end the lockout.'

Now of course I'm not serious, I couldn't tell you if there's a deal in place or not. I don't have that kind of information. However, if I had to count how many times someone has postulated 'A source close to the negotiations told me that the lockout will be ended within the next few days', I wouldn't be done until Christmas.

Unsurprisingly, that exact statement came out yesterday. Steve Burton reported last night that his sources told him that an unannounced meeting took place Monday, and significant progress was made toward ending the lockout.

As you've probably heard from a million different people by now, Steve Burton is the sportscaster for Channel 4 here in the Boston area (better known as WBZ-TV). He's been here for over 18 years now, and by all accounts is a genuinely nice man, and has been covering all Boston sports, from the Red Sox to the Celtics, since being hired in 1994.

However, he is rarely seen around the TD Garden according to other beat writers and bloggers I know. In fact, he started coming around frequently during the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run, and was dubbed a 'f***ing vulture' by Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton.

Just minutes after his report was published on CBS Sports online, fans, bloggers, beat writers, insiders, and bandwagoners alike began to discredit Burton's report. Burton's entire credibility as a sportscaster itself was, too, ridiculed and torn apart, completely and utterly thrown to the wolf pack that is hockey fans. Is it wrong? Absolutely, it's completely wrong and unprofessional. But, as Ty Anderson of the New England Hockey Journal (and Hockey Buzz) put it, "it's become all the norm in the media's war of attrition". (View Ty's take on Burton's report here).

The worst part about all of this is that we can't say for sure whether Burton was correct or not. It isn't very difficult to fathom that, in his entire 18 years of covering Boston sports, he has met one, if not multiple, credible source in the hockey world, now is it? Not at all, because when you work for that long in one city and one city only, you tend to meet a lot of different people in every industry, whether it be hockey, baseball, football, or basketball. We won't know until Count Bettman addresses the media at 1 PM tomorrow. If Burton is right, he'll be proclaimed a hero, a God in the eyes of some who desperately want their hockey back, and all those who jumped to discredit him will be backpedaling and doing their best to twist their words to make it appear as though they never discredited Burton or the report, and in the process will make themselves look like babbling fools. Hell, both sides stated today that they made progress. NHLPA negotiator Steve Fehr stated, "(...) I'd say it's the best day we've had (...) We will be back at it tomorrow morning". If Burton is right, that's great for him, he had it right. However, if he's wrong, then he's wrong. The outrage at this report is unfounded. It's unlike any of the other one hundred or so writers that have claimed a 'source close to the negotiations' told them that the lockout will end soon. It's become so redundant that it's almost laughable at this point, and I personally find it much simpler and less stressful to consider it false until it's proven to be true.

Tomorrow is the day where we will know all. Either negotiations will break down, and an announcement will be made with more games being cancelled. Or, we will hear news of very significant progress, and possibly an entire new deal by tomorrow evening. But that's just the thing, we don't know what will happen. We just have to wait and see, because at the end of the day, we as fans have zero control over and zero say in the situation.

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