The NHL Winter Classic, scheduled for January 1 at Michigan Stadium, could be cancelled on Friday. No meetings have taken place between the NFL and the locked-out players union and none are planned either.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings were scheduled to play the annual New Year’s Day game for a crowd of about 120,000. If there is no decision reached, however, Friday is a key day for the NHL in its contract with the University of Michigan. The league will owe the University $250,000 on Friday, another $1 million on December 7 and again on December 28, then a final $650,000 on January 18.
If the league does cancel before Friday, they are only responsible for the $100,000 deposit they have already paid. This would be part of a “work stoppage cancellation clause.” The league would be responsible, however, for any expenses in connection with the game if they do not make a decision by Friday.
The NHL has made clear that if the Winter Classic is cancelled, it will not be rescheduled. Also, the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park would be cancelled. It is believed that the league would stand to lose more than the $30 million it earned from last year’s Winter Classic if it was cancelled this year.
The two sides have not met since the NHL rejected the NHLPA’s three proposals on October 25 in Toronto. They have no immediate plans to meet in order to find a resolution to the lockout. Bill Daly, the NHL deputy commissioner was quoted saying, “No new news. We withdrew our most recent proposal on Friday, and now we are spending time thinking about our next proposal and how best to get closer to a resolution. We hope the union is doing the same thing. Given the fact that the union refused to even discuss our last proposal, it would appear that we still have a large gulf to bridge.”