The NHL 2013 Winter Classic is set for New Year’s Day, the sixth such event around the first of the year. The site is the University of Michigan Stadium, home of the Wolverine’s football team. The stadium is expected to hold around 120,000 fans, which would be the largest hockey crowd ever. The two teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first Canadian team to play in the event, and the Detroit Red Wings, who won their first appearance in the Winter Classic.
The weather for the event should create ideal conditions. The high is expected to be 24 degrees and the low around 15. Historically, the Winter Classic is scheduled for the afternoon and partly cloudy skies should allow for perfect ice conditions. In previous years, snow, rain and sunshine have interrupted the Winter Classic to varying degrees, but there is only a 20 percent chance of precipitation.
Of course, there is one giant cause for concern around the Winter Classic. The NHL owners locked out the players and so no such event will take place. The most anticipated event in the NHL regular season has no fan fare, reality shows or special graphics promoting the event on television. It is believed that the two teams will face off in the same location on January 1st, 2014 if the lock out is over.
Without the hockey season, die-hard fans will only be able to wonder about the trajectory of the 2012 part of the season. The NHL Winter Classic, between two original six teams, was likely to serve as a highlight. Even in a 48-game season, the loss of the Winter Classic and the publicity around it is another blow to the sport.