Report: NHL can pull out of Winter Classic as late as Jan. 1 Staff

8/13/2012 12:01:06 PM

The National Hockey League can cancel the New Year's Day Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium as late as the actual Jan. 1 date, according to The New York Times.

The newspaper, citing the contract agreed upon by the league and the University of Michigan, says the NHL can back out on game day because of a work stoppage "arising from the lack of a collective bargaining agreement." The contract also reportedly states that the league would forfeit only $100,000 of its $3 million stadium rental fee, with the rest of the fee refunded by the university.

The details of the contract would give the NHL the ability to save its annual outdoor game in the event that a lockout delays the start of the regular season. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman already said last Thursday that the owners would lock the players out if a new collective bargaining agreement can't be reached by Sept. 15.

The Detroit Red Wings are scheduled to host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

According to The New York Times, the contract does not cover the outdoor games to be played that week at Detroit's Comerica Park, which includes the Red Wings and Maple Leafs alumni games.