HOCKEYTOWN WINTER FESTIVAL IN TROUBLE?
With news yesterday that Gary Bettman plans on canceling the NHL Winter Classic by November if no new labor deal is reached, there’s a possible side effect that not as many people have talked about—what happens to the Winter Festival in Detroit? Specifically for us college hockey fans, what happens to the Great Lakes Invitational set for Comerica Park?
According to the Detroit News, the longer the lock out proceeds, the more in jeopardy the Festival is, however it is still unknown if they will outright cancel it.
Jimmy Devellano, senior vice president/alternate governor for the Red Wings, said Thursday the organization is in a wait-and-see mode.
“We’re only days into a lockout, so it’s so very early to speculate on any of this,” he said. “You don’t know what is going to happen in a month from now. I don’t know what is going to happen in a month from now.
“But I will say a month from now, some decisions will have to be made pro or con.”
I’m not sure who is paying and running the show for the Winter Festival. I seem to recall the NHL agreed to set up a second rink at Comerica Park to appease Red Wings owner Mike Illitch for not having the Winter Classic in Detroit. If it’s the NHL operating the event, though, I don’t think Gary Bettman is interested doing anything hockey related while there’s a lock out, no matter who it affects (and it’s not just the GLI, but the Wings/Leafs alumni game, an AHL game, a pair of major junior games, and high school/junior hockey games).
So that leads to the next problem—what’s the contingency plan if the event does get canceled? As of right now, nothing. I asked Michigan hockey SID Rob Tillotson and he said he has not heard of any contingency plan talk yet. Perhaps it’s too early to be talking about Plan B or perhaps no one really thought about it? I don’t know. But they better not wait too long because not every date over the holidays is available at Joe Louis Arena.
The GLI is currently scheduled for December 27-28 at Comerica Park. Comedian Jeff Dunham has Joe Louis Arena booked for December 28. World Wrestling Entertainment has an event scheduled for December 26, so they can’t push back the date. However, December 29-31 are currently open (Saturday-Monday). I suggest someone look in to booking those dates, although it would be quite GONG SHOW appropriate if the Winter Festival got canceled and the league didn’t have a back up plan.
Also, any fans planning to travel to town for the Great Lakes Invitational, definitely keep an eye out on this as the lock out progresses because it might not end up being held on the original dates and your travel plans may need to be altered.