This comes as no surprise, but today it is expected that the league will cancel the Winter Classic, according to ESPN. The game was supposed to take place at the Big House in Michigan between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs on News Years Day.
The decision to cancel the game was based on a number of factors and logistics was a concern.
The league was tasked with a unique challenge this year in building two rinks — one at "The Big House" and one at Comerica Park — and has a contract with the former that requires the NHL to pay for any expenses occurred by the university if the event was canceled later than Nov. 2. The NHL also owed $250,000 of the $3 million rental fee on Nov. 2.
This is not believed to be the biggest deal-breaker, however.
The league did not want to host such an event without the usual bells and whistles — HBO's "24/7"show documenting the event would've been virtually impossible to pull off — and it did not want the pageantry of the event tainted by the work stoppage.
The Winter Classic is touted by the NHL as a celebration of the game, a tough message to send after a league-imposed lockout has wiped out almost the first two months of the season.
The Classic was the one thing keeping some tension on negotiations, because the game and surrounding events (24/7…) are obviously revenue and publicity generators that the league and owners didn’t want to miss out on. Now, there’s no specific incentive for a deal to be reached, which means this thing could drag on into… well, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter can spend another summer as Stanley Cup Champions.