Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

NHL Winter Classic Worth Fighting For?

It wouldn’t be the first time that the state of Michigan hosted an outdoor game, but it would be the first for the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.

It also wouldn’t be the first thing the NHL cancelled due to the labor negotiations, but if a deal is not done by this Thursday’s deadline for an 82 game schedule – the Winter Classic could be in serious jeopardy.

Just because the league doesn’t play an 82 game schedule – the Winter Classic could still be had.  However, the amount of time it takes to publicize, prepare for, and the like does take time.  Don’t get me wrong, sponsors would come out of the woodwork, the arena could be built at the University of Michigan (Not Michigan State as previously published – sorry to college fans for that major verbal gaffe) in time.

Problem is, no one in the NHL or NHLPA are concerned with getting a deal done that would bring the outdoor classic to Michigan, and finally get a Canadian team involved.  Once again, the players and owners squabbles are putting others at risk of losing money.  The city of Windsor stands to lose 2 million dollars in tourism revenue.

The problem is, the Winter Classic might not be worth fighting for, despite the fact that the NHL and NHLPA both seem to be using it as a bargaining chip.  Rumors are starting to circulate now that put a deadline of November 20th for a deal to be done in time for the outdoor skirmish to take place.

Outside of Toronto and Detroit though, does anyone really care if the game gets cancelled?  Sure you have a few fans that will make the trek because the game is outdoors and they are close enough to the stadium or lucky enough to have seats.  But much like the All Star game – the luster of the game diminishes the further you are from it.

It is a regular season game, two points are on the line, and for the first time in the history of the classic, the point values are high because its an interconference rivalry – a first for the classic.

Television ratings are high in the United States, and could have been for this event with the inclusion of a Canadien team – but outside that – its just another day in paradise for many NHL fans, and most could care less where the Detroit Red Wings played the Toronto Maple Leafs as long as the game was televised and meant something.  Fans love the “retro” look and feel of the outdoor game as it has become traditional for competing teams to where vintage or throwback sweaters (but hey – the fans are just the revenue stream in this picture).

Using the Winter Classic as a bargaining chip in the negotiations is just another publicity stunt by either side, because the only two real winners or losers in that argument are Toronto and Detroit, and in the grand scheme of things, Detroit is the biggest winner/loser since they are hosting the event.

Fast Fact: The Detroit Red Wings are the first NHL team to compete in an outdoor competition.  On February 2, 1954 the Detroit Red Wings skated outside against a team of inmates from Michigan’s Marquette Branch Prison.  The score was not kept after the Red Wings had gone up 18-0 in the first period.

Tags: Detroit Red Wings Hockey Toronto Maple Leafs Winter Classic

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