The National Hockey League announced on Friday that it has cancelled the premiere regular season event on its calendar, the Winter Classic. The game that was scheduled to take place at The Big House, the stadium of tbe Michigan Wolverines football team. Two of the league’s original 6 teams, the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs were set to take the ice.
The announcement was expected all week, and with apparently no movement on labour talks to end the lockout, the step was deemed necessary as there was a large payment due this coming week for rental on tbe stadium.
Although its just a hunch, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if there was a wink and handshake involved between the NHL and the University as well as the Red Wings and Leafs to make this cancellation announcement as part of a way to quicken the advancement of the negotiations. With the revenue that the Winter Classic would generate, would it not be in the league’s best interest to keep the date and pay the $250K installment in hopes that the game could still take place, and even be perhaps the season-opener?
I definitely think so, and if Daren Dreger’s report on TSN today is true, there could be a game-changing offer from the owners imminent. If the offer is there that could bring about a relatively quick agreement, then cancelling the Winter Classic would be a huge mistake. I have said earlier that this announcement, when it came, would also be the death blow to the season, because it takes away the impetus for the owners to compromise, and is the tipping point, so to speak. But to make that decision a couple of days after a decent conversation that opens the door to a deal makes me question the timing of the announcement and makes me think the might be a “plan B” in the back pocket of the owners.
I find it hard to believe that in a billion dollar business, that the league would fret over a 250K payment without hedging their bets.
Or I could be wrong.