Reports: Winter Classic cancelled

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Reports: Winter Classic cancelled

Theres no Winter Classic.

Theres no 247: Road to the Winter Classic series for HBO.

Theres also no getting back to the point of no return for both the NHL and the NHLPA as fans are going to be pissed off no matter what happens from this point forth.

According to reports from both ESPN and the AP, the Jan. 1 Winter Classic match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the University of Michigan campus has been cancelled for the 2013-14 season.

The NHL later confirmed the Winter Classic cancellation in a release shortly after 3 p.m.

Reports also indicate the Wings and Leafs game will be set to play in the same setting on Jan. 1 2014 when 110,000 plus fans are expected to be part of the biggest hockey crowd in NHL history. The logistics and money involved with setting up the New Years Day game appear to be the two biggest culprits involved in the league cancelling the signature game, but it also appears to be a preemptive move to keep the WC from becoming a leverage point in negotiations.

The popularity, soaring TV ratings and marketing prowess of the Winter Classic game make it the NHL golden goose, and the league wasnt willing to compromise it given the unsure status of CBA talks.

For the players the Winter Classic only represented one out of 82 games on the schedule, but it was also a giant money-maker for the NHL when the league counts out the hockey-related revenue eventually divvied up between the players and the league. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters on Thursday that negotiations will begin relatively near future with the NHLPA, and December games will be next on the chopping block.

While the Winter Classic cancellation means the NHL will end up losing the PR battle this season to an angry mob of fans, there are still believed to be a number of league scenarios for a shortened season. But one has to wonder at this point how quickly fans will return given the damage inflicted on the NHL product through 49 days of fruitless negotiations.

Just Belichick being Belichick at Friday presser

Just Belichick being Belichick at Friday presser

On Wednesday, the Patriots media room was festooned with AFC Championship Game adornments. A big red backdrop behind the podium, Patriots and Steelers helmets arranged on a table facing each other with the Lamar Hunt AFC Champion Trophy in the middle. 

Bill Belichick, who's not big on festoons, noted the helmets during his press conference and deadpanned, "So exciting...". That clip got some run. 

On Friday, when asked to recall his first Conference Championship as a coach, he mentioned the 2001 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh and the fact that Belichick, Lawyer Milloy and Tom Brady were all required to fly to Pittsburgh on the Friday before the game to do media duties. 

"That was awesome," Belichick snarked. Then, looking to the area where the display was on Wednesday, Belichick smiled and said, "Where's all the stuff from Wednesday? Did it get thrown out?"

He is the turd in the NFL's punch bowl and it's endlessly amusing. 

Belichick not focused on Trump shout-out before inauguration: 'We've got a big game'

Belichick not focused on Trump shout-out before inauguration: 'We've got a big game'

FOXBORO -- During a dinner for donors at Union Station in Washington, D.C. on Thursday night, Donald Trump name-dropped Bill Belichick on two separate occasions. It marked what might've been the first time a president-elect publicly shouted out an NFL coach on the eve of his inauguration in the office's history.

Trump and Belichick have a long-standing friendship, Belichick explained back in November. Still, on Friday morning, the Patriots commander-in-chief had little reaction to his name being mentioned by Trump the night before. 

"We've got a big game," Belichick said matter-of-factly. 

There was little chance Belichick would utter anything else. He's still in preparation mode, still trying to out-work the Steelers in order to have his team at its best Sunday night. 

It's that approach that urged Trump to mention Belichick in the first place.

"I out-worked everybody" during the election, Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Trump also mentioned the four-time Super Bowl-winning head coach while in the process of pointing out Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft during the dinner. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob."