Blog Entry

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:44 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 2:39 pm

By Brian Stubits

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 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

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.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: January 19, 2012 6:49 am

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

BOO HISS...They aren't the Ann Arbor Red Wings...This game should be played in COMERICA PARK.  As an AVID Red Wing fan this a very disappointing to me....I'll watch from the comfort of my Man I can catch the Wolverines playing in the Gator/Outback Bowl as well....

Since: Mar 5, 2010
Posted on: January 19, 2012 5:50 am

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

I'm not sure I understand all the posturing about which venue to hold it at, especially based on "ability to see the game". First of all, when you get to the cheap seats of any venue, the game becomes a rumor. This is true even at JLA, go grab yourself a seat in the top row and tell me you wouldn't prefer to be home in front of the big screen. Comerica? Same issue, and virtually no sound (can't even hear the pop of the bat hitting the ball). This venue, if it is selected, will be selected for a very specific reason, to pack in 110,000 people for a hockey game. That, in and of itself, is a very unique happening. People will attend BECAUSE it is such a unique happening. And that is a bad thing because, what? It has already been done at the college level? Great, how many times at the NHL level? Don't like it? Stay home. Stay grumpy. My guess is there will be a lot of saved ticket stubs and other memorablia for those who attend, no matter how much some want to beach and complain.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: January 19, 2012 12:43 am

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

Seats in football stadia are not too close together; your butts have just gotten fatter.

Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2012 8:01 pm

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

Should hold it at Comerica Park where the fans can actually see the ice, it's hard enough to even see a football in Ann Arbor.

Since: Oct 8, 2011
Posted on: January 18, 2012 7:20 pm

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

Chicago-Detroit at Michigan would have been the best. Still, Hockeytown by name versus hockeytown in reality is a great idea. Maybe the Winter Classic will be the only outdoor game, since Canada has fewer teams. I'd like to see a game in Winnipeg with real good ice against Edmonton and see some fast skating. Or better yet, Edmonton-Calgary. I know. nobody will watch. OK, Montreal versus Colorado by the river. Bring back Lemieux and Draper.

Since: May 5, 2010
Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:47 pm

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

   Doesn't matter if Wolverines are in Rose Bowl. That game starts at 5 PM (ET) and Winter Classic will be over by then as it starts at 1 PM (ET).
   Don't like the idea it is at Ann Arbor as college game was already played there so it is not a new venue for hockey game.
Should have been in Detroit at Comerica Park.

Do like idea that Toronto is in it as they were part of the Original Six. Next year it should be Montreal at Boston at Gillette Stadium.

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:29 pm

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

Should have been Wings vs. Blackhawks

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:28 pm

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

If this is more than just rumor, I'm glad to see the NHL finally include a Canadian team in their "crown jewel," instead of treating them like the ba$tard stepchildren of the league.

That being said, what an FU to the city of Detroit for the league setting terms on where the game can be played. This is an event that could benefit the city, and its being sold out for trying to set an NHL attendance record. Hopefully, everyone gets things right and the game is played at Comerica Park. The city, being right on the border, would be an amazing scene for the weekend.

I will say, the Wings will be a tired bunch. They have a long standing tradition of hosting a game New Years' Eve night. Half a days' rest between games will be interesting.

Since: Jul 14, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:28 pm

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

Damn i though tthey would have it in Tampa this year...............

Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:19 pm

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

why is this a bad venue? as opposed to the other winter classics that are in big stadiums? this will be awesome. after reading some of the posts I think some on here are dissappointed it didnt come to there town and have some weak reasoning for why this isnt a good idea in Ann Arbor

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