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2012 NHL Lockout: Searching for signs of hope

Searching for a sign that the 2012 NHL lockout will cease sooner rather than later,

Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

People didn't like the Matrix sequels much. It was hard to link the cocky-confused hacker version of Neo from the original movie with the superhero/deity version of the former Thomas Anderson of the second and third movies. Let's not even get into the rave scene in The Matrix Reloaded.

But there was a great quote from a character that only appeared twice in the sequels. Though his part in the films was small, the character himself was supposed to be the program/sentient being behind the entire machine-developed virtual reality that is the matrix.

The Architect was a smug old man behind a desk in a room filled with television monitors that showed just about everything. Neo meets the Architect in that room in The Matrix Reloaded, while the Architect and the Oracle have a brief conversation on a park bench at the end of final movie of the series, The Matrix Revolutions. It's the meeting in Reloaded that delivers this little soliloquy in response to Neo's defiance:

Humph. Hope, it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.

Ah, yes, hope... While there is nothing but doom and gloom around in media reports online and from hockey punditry on Twitter regarding the 2012 NHL lockout, fans still cling to signs that there could or might be (possibly) something going on that we don't know about that will end the labor dispute sooner than expected. We're not in the know and hockey bloggers, columnists, beat reporters and journalists can't know everything that's going on. They just repeat what they've been told or what they know. They're not in the conference rooms and attending the meetings to know what's going on, right. Right?!

(Sidenote: This was part of the reason how Eklund rose to fame: Filling the needs of a curious public when no news was available on the subject of the 2004 NHL lockout. That's another story for another time)

Last week, a news release was sent out by the Tampa Bay Lightning that a sheet of hockey-ice was being laid down at Times Palace. Some reacted with disgust - it was going "unused" because there would be no NHL hockey played upon it (even if it was going to be utilized by local groups). Others started considering the team knew something we (fans) don't with regards to lockout negotiations. Maybe sides are closer than we think? Perhaps something is imminent? Why on earth would they put down the 20th anniversary logo at mid-ice, a major undertaking - if the ice-sheet was just for brief use?

Indeed, between laying down the ice and maintaining the ice surface, that's a lot of money the franchise is spending for amateur hockey. Realism says there is nothing to it, it's a public relations move by the club to keep itself and the sport of hockey in local consciousness while the Lightning hockey team is idle. But still, it offers a degree of hope for those who want to forget the reality of the business that the club needs to keep up appearances.

You could also latch on to any number of message board fodder out there on the Internet. Idle speculation, hearsay, sourced, unsourced; it's something to keep fans busy. Sometimes you cross a nugget that makes you wonder if it could be real, could it be reliable and truthful.

Case in point, - the message board of choice for Calgary Flames fans - hosts a user known as "timbit" who is purported to be former NHL defenseman Paul Baxter. With that point in mind, timbit dropped a nugget on Calgary Puck Sunday that may lead to salivation from lockout-idled fans:

From a reliable source, the team reps have been told to stay by their phones over the next couple of days, as the player's association have several proposals that will be voted on.

The source also said that the lawyers are preparing and on call to have final wording in place by Thursday. The expectation is that the lockout will be over by next weekend and there will be no club off ice staff layoffs.

You have every reason to be skeptical with that remark. For starters, being Calgary Puck outsiders, we're not aware of the truth if this is indeed Baxter. Secondly, the anonymous source (... though if he had blabbed who, the his source would no might stop sharing with him information, right?). Thirdly, this contradicts everything that's been shared with the public regarding negotiations - the fact meetings (resuming Tuesday) revolve around the non-core issue of money at the moment. This would be a sudden and grand turnaround.

And even if it did happen, we'll go to a fourth point - there's no telling that the NHL would in fact accept any one of "several" offers from the NHLPA.

We look for hope where we can. We try to latch on to something, anything, that gives us a reason to go forward, something that drives us to continue in the face of adversity. As The Architect said, it's a grand delusion and yet a strength for humanity.

I just wish there was something a little more concrete to put faith in and draw hope from.