It is no surprise that a decision about the Winter Classic is expected this this week, if you scan the contract the league entered into with the University of Michigan.
Dollars and cents: The NHL contracted use of the Big House for $3 million. The first payment of $100,000 was delivered when they signed the contract on Feb. 8.
The rest of the payment plan called for $250,000 to be paid on Nov. 2; $1,000,000 on Dec. 7; $1,000,000 on Dec. 28; and $650,000 on Jan. 18, 2013.
Cancellation policy: Aside from the league owing more money on Friday, Nov. 2 is a benchmark for canceling the event and not owing the university any more money.
“If cancellation occurs prior to and including November 2, 2012, to retain the $100,000 initial consideration payment.
“If cancellation occurs on November 3, 2012 or later, to retain the initial consideration payment and obtain reimbursement for all documented and actual out-of-pocket expenses reasonably incurred by the University in connection with the cancelled Event prior to cancellation.”
The NHL also made sure to cover itself in case collective bargaining agreement negotiations got ugly. The contract specifies that the league can cancel the event due to a strike or lockout.
"In addition, NHLE shall, in its sole and absolute discretion, has the right to cancel any Event(s) including the Game, due to any work stoppage or other activity including a strike, work action, lock out or any other events arising at any time after September 15, 2012 in whole or in part due to the lack of a collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and any labor organization representing a majority of NHL players, even if as the result of intentional conduct by the NHL."
On the clock: Lastly, this event doesn't come together overnight. The NHL could start work in the Big House as early as Dec. 1. Ice guru Daniel Craig and his team have to build the main rink in Ann Arbor, Mich., plus one or two axillary rinks on the field. They also have to build a rink at Comerica Park for the alumni games.
This takes a lot of time, man power and organization. It's not something the league can wait until the last minute to make a decision about.
But in the end, we all lose the most anticipated regular-season game of the NHL season. Let's hope they can come to an agreement in time to try it again on Jan. 1, 2014.