The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/21/12 at 05:46 PM ET
This is particularly interesting given a certain Red Wings exec's compound comments regarding players, fans, and then the potentially imminent cancelation of the Winter Classic's precursor events, a.k.a. the Hockeytown Winter Festival: while Jimmy Devellano suggests otherwise, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran quotes a "league source" as stating that the whole shebang will be canceled shortly in an attempt to gain lockout-negotiating leverage:
The NHL’s New Year’s Day Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings is on the chopping block, a potential early victim of the lockout.
A league source told the Star that, barring a settlement, commissioner Gary Bettman plans to cancel it in November — to take away any advantage the players may have at the bargaining table because of the game’s popularity.
“Gary told (the board of governors) he was going to cancel the Winter Classic in November because he didn’t want the players to use the game as leverage,” the source said.
A source close to the players said the NHLPA had heard the same thing.
“It’s a scare tactic,” the union source said. “It just proves the NHL has no intention of negotiating any time soon.”
If the NHL season were to begin in mid- to late November, it would leave plenty of time to stage and hype the Classic — including HBO’s successful 24/7 series, a behind-the-scenes look at the teams involved. The event at the University of Michigan’s football stadium — known as The Big House — would draw a crowd of around 100,000 and has traditionally been a ratings hit in Canada and the U.S.
Leafs GM Brian Burke, the NHL and the NHLPA declined comment. Jimmy Devellano, Red Wings senior vice-president, said the organization remains in wait-and-see mode.
“We’re going forward with (the Winter Classic) at this point in time,” said Devellano. “It’s way too early to start to speculate. It’s at least a month too early to worry about it.”
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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.