2013 Winter Classic: Reports say NHL will make decision on Thursday

According to reports the NHL and Gary Bettman will make a decision (read: cancel) the Winter Classic on Thursday.

Sorry for the delay, guys. Hurricane Sandy drove the internet away and forced me to wait out the downed trees and power lines before I could make my way to Quinnipiac for a little power and internet.

So, apologies for the lack of stories. But hopefully you're all safe and well.

According to multiple reports the NHL will be making a decision about the Winter Classic on Thursday. That decision, of course, will be to cancel the event; especially since the two sides have yet to meet since the NHLPA tabled three offeres a couple of weeks ago.

With the NHL needing to devote a serious amount of cash to the University of Michigan for the use of the Big House for the Classic, Gary Bettman and the owners probably don't want to foot the bill if they don't think the two sides can come to an agreement. Well, that, and the fact that Bettman probably doesn't want the players to be able to use the Winter Classic as a bargaining chip during the talks.

I don't think you need me to tell you again what I think will happen if the NHL pulls the plug on its signature regular season event.

But canceling the Classic also shows just how far these negotiations have gone, especially in terms of the egos that currently reside in the negotiating room. Read this excerpt from Scott Burnside on what canceling the game means for the fans and the NHL:

The obliteration of the NHL's marquee regular-season event is the symbolic crossing of the Rubicon, a stark acknowledgment that all that's been gained since the last ridiculous lockout ended has been in vain, has been frittered away by two sides so entrenched in their dislike and mistrust of each other that they are powerless to stop it.

The Winter Classic represents all the positives that came out of the ashes of the last lockout. It represents the fans' loyalty to the game and the value of pushing the envelope, and it is a shining example of things that work for a league that has so often flirted only with things that go bump in the night.

The Winter Classic is a vital part of the growth of the game. Forget the fact that it helps make the NHL's bottom line look better, the game is vital to the sport. From my article the other day:

The Winter Classic is one of those events that brings outside fans to the NHL. It's one of the few events (aside from the playoffs) that gets the casual or even non-NHL fans to say, "Maybe I will check that out and see what's going on." Donald Fehr knows how important it is for growing the game, Bettman knows how important it is for the NHL's bottom line and both sides know how much of a discrace it would be for the game to be cancelled.

As of right now only the 82-game season has been a casualty of these talks (or lack there of). If Bettman takes out the Winter Classic then you can add that to the list as well.

And once that happens there's no telling what each side will do to try and avoid the fallout. Popular belief is things won't change no matter what happens.

Neither side has given the fans a reason to think otherwise.