If the 2012 NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers was the worst-kept secret of 2011, then we already have this year's winner in the announcement of the 2013 outdoor game.
Even before the Flyers and Rangers faced off at Citizens Bank Park on Jan. 2, rumors circulated that the 2013 game would be between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, with the likely location being Michigan Stadium. On Thursday, it'll officially become a reality.
Per TSN's Bob McKenzie and various sources in the Detroit-area, there will be two press conferences tomorrow afternoon to officially announce the 2013 Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.
(UPDATE: The NHL has issued a press release announcing one press conference will take place at 10:30 a.m. ET at Comerica Park and one at 1:15 p.m. ET at Michigan Stadium on Thursday.)
This morning, University of Michigan Regents approved the leasing of the Big House to the NHL for a cool $3 million this morning, allowing the league to do several things not normally done inside the stadium.
From the Detroit News:
A liquor license would be obtained — liquor is not served on campus at Michigan — and the NHL will have advertising and other sponsorship agreements throughout the stadium. There is no advertising at Michigan Stadium for football games.
To satisfy Red Wings owner Mike Illitch, who also owns the Detroit Tigers and Comerica Park, the numerous events that now take place in a Winter Classic host city won't all take place at Michigan Stadium. As the NHL goes for a record attendance number at the Big House, Illitch will see his baseball stadium get plenty of action with a rink of its own.
Comerica Park will host an American Hockey League game between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies, the minor league affiliates of the Wings and Leafs.
It will also be the site of the Great Lakes Invitational, along with two Ontario Hockey League games and numerous high school and youth games.
Michigan and Michigan State will be two of the GLI teams. Three OHL teams — the Plymouth Whalers, Saginaw Spirit and Windsor Spitfires — have already been confirmed.
Comerica could also host the alumni game between the Wings and Leafs.
Jim Parker of the Windsor Star reports that the London Knights will be the fourth OHL team playing in the outdoor junior game.
Now that we're set with the matchup for Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, we can start looking ahead to who's going to be suiting up for the Maple Leafs and Red Wings in the alumni game (Will Gordie Howe follow Bernie Parent's lead?) and, almost as importantly, exactly what throwback jerseys will both teams wear.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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