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NHL lockout: Winter Classic, All-Star Game could be cancelled

Two of the most popular events of the NHL season might be cancelled in the coming days, as the league prepares to get rid of the annual Winter Classic and All-Star Game, according to Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review.

With both sides prepared to move on from the idea of holding an 82-game season in the coming days and the likelihood that several weeks of games will be cancelled if an agreement between the league and NHLPA don't reach an agreement imminently, it seems the two prominent events could be eliminated from the schedule. Rossi details the situation:

The Classic and All-Star Game have been the highest-rated regular-season games since the Classic’s debut in 2008. Reasons to cancel the signature events include: protecting local businesses such as hotel and restaurants; refunding tickets; and eliminating the lucrative games as possible bargaining chips during labor negotiations.

The Tribune-Review first reported earlier this month that NBC, the NHL’s national broadcast partner, had started planning for programming to replace the Classic. HBO, which had produced the "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic" series each of the past two Decembers, must know by mid-November if that program can go off as planned.

This year's Winter Classic is scheduled to be held New Year's Day between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., while the All-Star Weekend is slated for Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 26-27. The league's current offer to the NHLPA is contingent on a full season being played this year, but the league says that if an agreement isn't reached by Friday, there won't be an 82-game season.

Rossi reports that Penguin players expect at least two weeks but possibly more than a month of games to be cancelled this weekend.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.