With NHL CBA talks stalled, Winter Classic could be cancelled, criticism of league commissioner Gary Bettman growing, NHLPA director Donald Fehr working to keep membership informed, plus the latest on Martin Brodeur, Eric Staal and Patrick Eaves.


NHL lockout could force cancellation of Winter Classic.

ESPN.COM: As NHL CBA negotiations remain stalled, a source familiar with the NHL’s plans said the league plans to cancel the Winter Classic on Thursday.

NHL PRO HOCKEY TALK: cited RDS.CA’s Renaud Lavoie, who confirmed the two sides remain in touch via e-mail and phone calls, though no formal negotiations have been scheduled.

 NEW YORK TIMES: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has no plans to reschedule the Winter Classic if forced to cancel it for this season.

 NATIONAL POST: Hurricane Sandy forced the league to close its mid-town New York offices yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, cancellation of the Winter Classic would be a significant move by the league, but it doesn’t mean the season is lost. The bulk of the league’s revenue comes in the second half of the season, when teams are jockeying for playoff berths, as well as the playoffs themselves, when teams aren’t paying their players. Yes, the Winter Classic does account for a decent chunk of that revenue, but the league could still earn significant revenue this season by playing a 60-game schedule, provided a deal can be reached in time to facilitate such a schedule.

SPORTSNET.CA: Nick Kypreos speculates over the possibility some NHL owners could be unhappy over Commissioner Bettman’s handling of this lockout.

SPORTING NEWS: Christopher Botta reports not to expect Bettman to be going anywhere.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bettman runs a tight ship, and has a small but influential group of owners on his side. All he needs is the support of eight owners, and he can shoot down any proposal he doesn’t agree with. Unless a significant number of owners publicly break ranks and criticize Bettman or call for his ouster, he remains captain of the NHL ship. Don’t expect a “palace coup” to bring this lockout to an end.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russa reports NHLPA director Donald Fehr was in Minnesota meeting with more than 30 locked-out NHL players, bringing them up to date on the lockout, and addressing the concerns of those worried about lost wages during this lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s considerably more transparency in the NHLPA compared to the previous lockout, and by all accounts, Fehr had done a great job keeping the players informed and boosting their morale. That being said, he has a more difficult job keeping over 700 players unified than Bettman does with 29 teams owners (since, of course, the league still owns the Phoenix Coyotes). I’m not suggesting the players will crack, just pointing out Fehr will have a tougher job keeping his troops unified than Bettman does.

ESPN.COM: Martin Brodeur is mulling the possibility of playing in Europe if this lockout continues, but he’s also worried about the damage it is inflicting upon the NHL brand.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has had better birthdays.

 DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves is still suffering headaches a year after suffering a concussion.