If the NHL plays as scheduled next season, the 2013 Winter Classic will take place in the largest venue yet — and for the first time feature a Canadian team.
The NHL announced Thursday that the 2013 Winter Classic will put the Maple Leafs against the Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on the University of Michigan campus. Michigan Stadium seats over 100,000, and the NHL suggested in a press release that the Winter Classic could set “an all-time world attendance record for a hockey game” (NHL, 2/9).
The inclusion of the Maple Leafs marks the first time ever that the Winter Classic has featured a Canadian team. Of course, the 2003 and 2011 NHL Heritage Classic outdoor games were all-Canadian affairs.
The 2013 Winter Classic and the entire 2012-13 NHL season are contingent on Gary Bettman and the owners reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players’ Association. The current CBA expires on September 15. Bettman, who once worked with David Stern as the NBA’s general counsel, has twice locked out the players. The most recent NHL lockout resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 NHL season.
(Thursday’s news from NHL press release via Puck the Media)