Hockey

Hotstove: U.S. networks could decide Classic fate

The NHL's quest for a major U.S. television deal might decide the future of the Winter Classic, said Glenn Healy on this week's Hotstove segment on Hockey Night in Canada.

The NHL's quest for a major U.S. television deal could decide the future of the Winter Classic, said Glenn Healy on this week's Hotstove segment on Hockey Night in Canada.

Over the next year, the NHL will begin negotiating a major television deal with the biggest networks in the US, and Healy said the league is in a great position.

"The No. 1 property in sports that is up first [for negotiations] is the NHL," Healy said. "Then it's the Pac 10 and then it's the NFL, but they're going to have labour strife."

Nevertheless, whichever network lands the NHL, the future of the Winter Classic is not certain.

"If ESPN gets the deal, they might not even want a New Year's Day game to go up against some of their bowl games; and if NBC gets it, they love Jan. 1st. So a lot has to happen before the next spot is picked," Healy said.

Even though major network executives could decide the future of New Year's Day extravaganza, several U.S. cities have already told the NHL they want to host the next Winter Classic.

Contributor Pierre LeBrun said Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia — home of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles — is the front-runner. Colorado and Minnesota are other interested cities.

"The NHL prefers the NFL stadium model compared to the baseball stadium," LeBrun said.

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