The Red Wings and Maple Leafs are scheduled to play at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, in front of 100,000 hockey fans in person and millions more on television.
Of course, there’s one issue — the players are locked out, and the game might not be played at all.
The owners could cancel the Winter Classic as early as November, according to the Toronto Star, because they don’t want the players using the league’s marquee event as leverage in negotiations.
“It’s a scare tactic,” a union source told the Star. “It just proves the NHL has no intention of negotiating any time soon.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly informed the league’s board of governors of his plan, but Red Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano is saying that they are still proceeding as if things are on schedule.
“We’re going forward with [the Winter Classic] at this point in time,” Devellano said. “It’s way too early to start to speculate.”
With no talks currently scheduled between owners and players, however, time is of the essence.