The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/13/12 at 12:52 AM ET
Via RedWingsFeed, the New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein reports that the NHL ensured that, should it lock out its players, it can back out of the Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at any time, with only minimal financial penalties resulting from said cancellation:
The N.H.L. can cancel the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at 115,000-seat Michigan Stadium as late as Jan. 1, the day of the game, because of a work stoppage “arising from the lack of a collective bargaining agreement,” the contract between the league and the University of Michigan shows.
The league would forfeit only $100,000 of its $3 million stadium rental fee, according to the contract. The rest of the fee would be refunded by the university.
The contract provisions give the league some leeway for salvaging its showcase event should a lockout delay the start of the 2012-13 season, enabling the N.H.L. to hold the Winter Classic even if a lockout is settled in late December.
Klein says that the NHL offers no guarantees nor refunds should the Red Wings choose not to hold the Great Lakes Invitational, the Griffins-Marlies AHL game or its slate of three OHL games at Comerica Park, but it’s covered its own ass regarding the Winter Classic:
The N.H.L.’s contract with Michigan, approved by the university’s board of regents on Feb. 9, contains provisions that treat a work stoppage in a way similar to a “force majeure” cancellation brought about by act of God, riot, weather, disaster or any other cause beyond the league’s control.
“It’s standard for us to include force majeure provisions in virtually all of our contracts,” said Bill Daly, the N.H.L. deputy commissioner, “and if we anticipated the possibility of a work stoppage in particular, it certainly wouldn’t have been unusual.”
According to the contract, the N.H.L. will have the use of Michigan Stadium from Dec. 1, when construction of the ice rink on the stadium floor can begin, through Jan. 9, when removal of the rink must be finished. The game can be played only on Jan. 1 or, in case of bad weather, Jan. 2. There is no provision in the contract for the Winter Classic to be played at Ann Arbor later in 2013 because of a work stoppage or for any other reason, and Daly said last week that there was no other agreement to play the game later in the year.
The N.H.L.-Michigan contract stipulates that the league forfeit $100,000 if it cancels the Winter Classic before Nov. 3. On Nov. 3 or after, a cancellation would cost the league $100,000 and any expenses incurred by the university in connection to the game.
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