The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/18/12 at 08:47 PM ET
As reports continue to pile up like ten thousand tons of iron ore pellets in front of steel mills on Zug Island, all suggesting that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will play a Winter Classic to be held at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, on January 1st,
2013 (bonus: the Vancouver Sun’s Cam Cole already hates it; welcome to the next 12 months’ worth of long treatises breaking down Brian Burke’s hangnails)...
The Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell spoke to Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano about the high likelihood that the Wings will announce such an engagement after (per MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James) the Wings return from a West Coast swing and kick off a six-game home stand on Feburary 8th, and for an event that nobody’s allowed to admit is happening, Devellano was very forthright about its top secret details:
Red Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano wouldn’t confirm the reports, but didn’t throw cold water on them either. He said if the game is played at Michigan Stadium, the Wings against the Leafs is the only option.
“That would make sense if you were trying to sell 115,000 tickets to anything,” Devellano said. “It so happens we’re right on the Canadian border. In Ontario and Windsor, the Maple Leafs are a religion. There’d be no other team to draw that much interest outside of Toronto for a game like this.”
Devellano tells Waddell that the Wings knew they’d be hosting one sooner or later…
“There’s only so many places the NHL can go with this game, so we knew we’d get one eventually as a cold-weather city and being a popular team in the U.S.,” Devellano said.
With the game being held outside of downtown Detroit, the reports claim the league will hold the support events in the Motor City. A second ice pad will be built at Comerica to host the alumni game as well as possibly the Great Lakes Invitational college hockey tournament that takes place annually over the Christmas holidays at Joe Louis Arena.
“We applied to put it in Comerica, but it’s a league-driven event,” Devellano said. “They’re going after a world, all-time attendance record. It’s no surprise that’s what the NHL is trying to accomplish.”
You mean might be, right?
Devellano also talked about the ratings game as it applies to an American and Canadian team taking part in the would-be event…
“Not at all,” Devellano said when asked if the event had grown to the point where NBC, the game’s American broadcaster, was comfortable with not having two U.S.-based clubs featured. “The Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team different from that. They’re the only (Canadian) team they would consider. Toronto is an international city. Toronto has a Major League Baseball team and an NBA team. It’s not like the other Canadian cities. It’s the only Canadian city that has those things and that makes it different. They participate in the other major sports (with U.S. teams).”
“The NHL has found something that is very good,” Devellano said. “It keeps NBC happy. It actually gets (TV) ratings. The league wants attractive teams in attractive markets to get American eyeballs on it.”
And aside from telling Waddell that the NHL will probably stick with cold-weather locales and Midwestern/Eastern cities, he believes that the NHL is going with the allure of the “Big House” because the Winter Classic is venue-driven, but I can’t quote the whole article, so take a gander for yourself.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.