The Winter Classic has become a signature event for the NHL, but a contentious lockout scenario threatens to knock it off the schedule for 2013.
The Detroit Red Wings are currently scheduled to play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium as part of the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2013, but with the lockout still in place, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the cancellation date for the Winter Classic is coming soon – reports have pegged Nov. 20 as the possible drop dead date.
Labor negotiations have been contentious and progress has been hard to come by, so drastic decisions are bound to be part of the process as talks drag on through what would have been the 2012-13 season.
According to the University of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, at least 80,000 tickets have already been sold, but that may not matter. Chris Johnson of The Canadian Press and Bob Duff of The Windsor Star have provided alarming updates, via Twitter:
Bettman says Winter Classic cancellation date is "rapidly approaching."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 18, 2012
Heard from a couple of sources that Nov. 20 would be drop dead date for saving Winter Classic. #NHL— Bob Duff (@asktheduffer) October 18, 2012
If the 2013 Winter Classic is cancelled, it's expected that the plans will be pushed back and the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will play in Ann Arbor in 2014. The Winter Festival in downtown Detroit would likely be in danger as well if the Winter Classic is cancelled.