The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/13/12 at 05:47 PM ET
As the Chief already noted, our friends in Toronto are corroborating the massive Detroit press push suggesting that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will hold a Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and if you don’t believe Pension Plan Puppets’ news, the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts (via RedWingsFeed) is also stating that the deal is done…
This slipped under the radar thanks to the sound and fury about the poll that said Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is overrated and the Mike Cammalleri trade, but it looks like the Leafs will play the Detroit Red Wings in next year’s NHL Winter Classic.
However, the game will not be held in Toronto but in Ann Arbor, Mich., where it is expected a world record for attendance at a hockey game will be set at Michigan Stadium. The stadium already holds the record, as 104,173 fans attended an outdoor game in 2010 between the University of Michigan and Michigan State. The plan is to configure the stadium capacity to 115,000 for the NHL’s outdoor game.
Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who is also chasing a Winter Classic for Toronto along with the NHL all-star game and the entry draft, said in an e-mail message the Leafs have not received any invitation to the Winter Classic – yet. But the word around the NHL is the league is committed to seeing the Leafs and Wings meet in next year’s outdoor game.
And ESPN’s Scott Burnside says that the NHL is giving the Red Wings’ owners an olive branch for not having the game at Comerica Park by holding a Great Lakes Invitational and possibly other events in Detroit
The NHL has all but finalized details to hold next year’s Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, while continuing negotiations for a second outdoor rink in downtown Detroit where all ancillary events would be held, a source told ESPN.com Friday. The league would like to have the matter settled by the All-Star break in late January, according to the source.
The Jan. 1 game between the Original Six rivals would be played at the University of Michigan’s “Big House,” which, at 110,000-plus seats, is the largest college football stadium in the country. Ann Arbor is about 43 miles west of Detroit.
But cognizant of the need to include the City of Detroit in the process, the league would like to build a second outdoor rink in downtown Detroit, probably at Comerica Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers.
The negotiations between the league, the City of Ann Arbor and the Red Wings are not completed. There is a definite sensitivity to making sure Detroit isn’t left out in the cold, as it were, given the long-time loyalty shown the beleaguered city by the Ilitch family, which owns both the Red Wings and Tigers.The source also said next year’s Winter Classic will include new events that also would be held in downtown Detroit.
This year’s Winter Classic at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park featured an alumni game that drew 45,000 fans. An American Hockey League game also was sold out at the ballpark, although ticket sales for those two games were bundled with the sale of tickets to the main Winter Classic game.
The ice surface at Citizens Bank Park also was used for other hockey and public skating events over the New Year’s holiday. A similar plan is being considered for Detroit, given the NHL’s desire to market the event as a celebration of the sport.
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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.