You can cue up Hail to the Victors for next New Year's Day even if the Michigan Wolverines aren't playing in the Rose Bowl.
It has been in the works for some time and now Ansar Khan of MLive.com is reporting that the deal to have the next Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium is done, agreed upon. All that's left is an announcement.
The NHL, the Detroit Red Wings and the University of Michigan have finalized a deal to hold next season’s Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, a source told MLive.com.
The long-rumored matchup between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will take place on Jan. 1, 2013. The Red Wings lobbied to have the game at Comerica Park, but the NHL couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hold this annual outdoor spectacle at "The Big House," where it is expected to attract a record crowd in excess of 110,000.
Khan goes on to report that the announcement won't be made until early February for reasons including the All-Star break and the Red Wings being on the road. He also writes that Comerica Park in Detroit will have its own rink where the other events of the "celebration of hockey" will be held, namely the Alumni Game.
That's an idea I love about this, but I'm sure Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru, won't appreciate double the work. It gives the Classic a presence in Detroit as well as Ann Arbor.
Now of course the parties involved are denying the report. Here's what Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Globe and Mail: “If and when anything is a ‘done deal’ regarding the Winter Classic, it will be announced. We have made no announcements yet.”
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke echoed toed the company line: “We have not yet received a formal invitation from the NHL. Until we do, this is speculation in my mind.”
University of Michigan AD Dave Brandon confirmed to the AP that there are talks still ongoing, but like the NHL, says it's not exactly done yet. Personally, there has been so much smoke to this for weeks, I think they are just not willing to confirmit yet and want it to wait until the announcement is made.
As soon as the NHL does make it official, this is groundbreaking for the league. It's the first time our neighbors to the North are going to be involved in what has thus far been just an American spectacle. Secondly, it will obliterate the record for attendance at an NHL game set in the inaugural Classic in Buffalo.
I'll be curious to see how much University of Michigan is brought to the game. The Wild card there is how the football team does. If they do win the Big Ten and are playing in the Rose Bowl, it will be very interesting. You will have the game in a college town where their school is playing in the Granddaddy of Them All.
But if Michigan isn't in the Rose Bowl or some other New Year's Day bowl, you could have the possibility of the band being at the game and blending the worlds of hockey and college football. I think it would be really cool if the Red Wings came out like the Michigan football team does and have a banner specially made that says "GO RED -- M Club Supports You" that the players tap with their sticks as they go under.
Either way, it looks like they'll have a long time to plan the details with this announcement looking like it will come way before the NHL's announcement this past September for the most recent Classic playing in Philadelphia.
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