There have already been 326 games cancelled as a result of the NHL Lockout. Now the Winter Classic, the league’s signature outdoor game, is on the chopping block.
Scott Burnside of ESPN.com said the league will move to cancel the event after talks have completely stalled and have little chance of finding success in the near-term.
The Winter Classic is one of the biggest events in the NHL season, drawing similar ratings to the Stanley Cup Finals. This year’s game was set to take place on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with the Toronto Maple Leafs scheduled to face the Detroit Red Wings.
Friday is the deadline for a $250,000 down payment from the league to the University of Michigan as declared in the contract signed for use of the stadium.
The league will also be financially responsible to the University of Michigan, if it cancels after Friday, for all “reasonable expenses incurred by the university,” according to Mike Brehm and Kevin Allen of USA Today Sports.
There are no scheduled talks planned between the NHLPA and the owners this week, according to Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork.com.
Both sides of the dispute have resulted in pointing the finger at one another for failing to create a workable condition in which to resolve things.
Since the last bargaining meeting on Oct. 18, we have consistently made it clear to the League that we are ready to meet and are willing to discuss all ideas, certainly including their last proposal. The league has unfortunately continued to decline to meet. Their position makes it difficult to move the process forward, as it is obviously hard to make progress without talking.
Surely, the ongoing Hurricane Sandy and its after-effects will play a part in delaying any resumption of talks in the coming days, as mass-transit and many other services in New York City are currently inoperable.