The NHL and NHLPA are finally having serious discussions. The battle for the PR spotlight has subsided some and it appears that the two sides are intent on actually getting something done now that the Winter Classic has been removed from the schedule.
Rumors are now suggesting that though the 2013 Winter Classic has been canceled, the NHL might still schedule an outdoor game for 2012-13 if the CBA is resolved promptly.
The rumor above is hinged on several key factors, the most obvious being the fact the league needs to end the lockout first. The concept of the lockout ending in the near future seemed pretty far-fetched as recently as last week but now, thanks to lengthy secret meetings, the end seems like it could finally be in view.
Realistically, if the lockout was to end prior to December an outdoor game could be a distinct possibility. The rumor suggests that if the NHL had all of December to prepare, an outdoor game could take place. However, this doesn't mean a Detroit / Toronto game would be back on the schedule. Instead, the rumor cites that an outdoor game would pit two American teams against each other on January 1st in a new location.
As always, take the report for what it is - pure speculation. The belief is that a resolved CBA, a schedule of 60ish games, the Stanley Cup playoffs and an outdoor game would be enough to "win back" the fans that have been so irritated by the lockout. All things considered, that list would probably be enough to win back most fans that have been craving some NHL hockey.
A new outdoor game would be a brilliant way for the NHL to not only market itself after the lockout but to win back fans lost by the lockout. Will they be able to make it happen or is this rumor based completely in fiction?
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I'm going to disregard the lockout potential portion of this for a change, and focus in on the outdoor game aspect.
I'm of two minds on this, both of which are probably pretty obvious, but I'll state them anyway. First, that the Winter Classic is such a draw because of its uniqueness. I'm not sure just how much this figures in the NHL's calculus, but eventually, by adding enough of a thing, you wind up watering it down. Second, and very much on the other hand, wouldn't it be nifty if that's just what New Years hockey looked like? A once-a-year show for any team with a climate cold enough to allow it.
Admittedly, part of that second bit comes from the very sporadically-played Heritage Classic, which already makes the Winter Classic not the only outdoor game in town, so to speak.
@miendiem Hypothetically, the rumored outdoor game wouldn't water the event down as the scheduled WC, the DET/TOR one, was postponed.
I totally agree with your reasoning - too much of a good thing is a bad thing - but I think this would be a brilliant marketing move by the NHL and it would keep the tradition of the outdoor game on the 1st in place.