By AARIF MOHIE EL-DEEN, Staff Writer
The roller coaster NHL lockout continues its highs and lows well into Week Seven. On Friday the NHL officially cancelled the 2013 Winter Classic event at the Big House in Ann Arbor and the Hockeytown Winter Festival event at Comerica Park.
The cancellation came hours after University of Michigan was owed $250,000 by the league. The NHL had no choice but to cancel the event to save the league from payments due later in the month.
The NHL was on the hook for $1 million to be paid early in December and another $1 million on December 28 before the event.
If the lockout is solved before these payments are due, the season will most likely go on without a Winter Classic event, but if the lockout continues past these dates, the NHL will save millions of dollars in payments and preparation that will go toward next years event.
The news not only hit Metro Detroit hard, but the entire NHL fan base. While the Red Wings were representing an entire state of fans that were excited for the event, their challenger, the Toronto Maple Leafs, were representing an entire nation that was excited to finally be included in the Winter Classic event. Canadians all over the country were set to travel to Ann Arbor on New Years Day to support the Leafs.
According to numerous ticket agents, the expected crowd of over 100,000 at the big house was going to be split nearly 50-50 between Red Wing supporters and Maple Leaf supporters.
The following day, fans were given another glimpse of cautious optimism. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA general counsel Steve Fehr met Saturday afternoon in a private location to discuss CBA issues.
According to Daly, the two covered numerous core economic issues with positive signs coming from their discussions. The meeting went on into the early hours of Sunday morning ranging for over 12 hours.
On Sunday, TSN Insider Bob McKenzie reported that the two sides will meet Tuesday in New York to continue negotiations. Daly later confirmed the report, and that the NHL has no plans in the near future to cancel any more games or the All-Star festivities scheduled for late January in Columbus.