By Ted Cabata, Staff Writer
This week brought some bad new for NHL fans, but also brought some hope as well. Obviously the big news is the NHL decided to cancel the Winter Classic, but amid that announcement they also agreed to meet with the players again so there is that glimmer of hope that all is not lost.
The reason I still have a glimmer of hope is because the timing of the cancelation makes no sense. Yes I understand that the NHL has to put a lot of time and effort into the Classic to get TV, rinks, marketing, and etc set up. However, how does cancelling the game help the owner’s with a bargaining chip? And why would the players even want to meet right away if they have no chance of playing before January 1 now?
Obviously, the Sunbelt Hockey Journal was not invited to the bargaining table but this whole process isn’t making a lot of sense just yet. My believe is the owners still want/need to play that game this year; especially the Canadian owners. They have been shut out of every prior Classic and to now be included and have the game be cancelled seems like a huge let down to their fans and also their wallets.
The other reason I am holding out hope is the fact that the two sides seem to be much closer to a deal then they were months ago. They are not miles apart like they were over the summer. Most recently they were percentage points away on revenue sharing which has been a big hold up on these contract negotiations. With that being said, was cancelling the game a ploy by the owners to force the player’s hand? Was it done to try and get the players to crack to pressure? I think it was, and my hope remains that something good will come from this.
Even if the game isn’t played on New Years on the grand scale it has been played in the past, can it still be played once a season starts? Yes. Martin Luther King Day seems like the first logical choice if they really can’t play the game on January 1. But in reality do you think NBC won’t jump to put the game back on the schedule as opposed to having nothing on that day to go up against the Rose Bowl or any other college football game? Like any other event money talks and there’s too much money to be had by the Winter Classic to not play it at all.
We will see how negotiations go this week but until the day the NHL officially cancels the 2012-2013 season altogether I think there is a chance the Winter Classic gets played somehow and somewhere.