Winter Classic increasingly likely to be cancelled by week’s end, slight movement in NHL labor talks, NHLPA showing no signs of cracking, Capitals owner believed among NHL “hardliners”, and lockout could be worthwhile for Blue Jackets new president of hockey operations.

TSN.CA: Barring progress in CBA talks this week, the NHL is expected to announce cancellation of the 2013 Winter Classic on Friday. Eric Macramalla, meanwhile, claims players who get seriously injured playing overseas run the risk of being “fired” by their NHL teams.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Some Red Wings players are concerned over the possible cancellation of the Winter Classic, suggesting if that goes, the entire season could be next.

ESPN.COM: Scott Burnside suggests the league and PA are risking a good thing if the Winter Classic is cancelled.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Shelley Anderson reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Stephen Fehr held an extensive conversation on Tuesday, with the PA believed seeking a way to resume formal negotiations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doesn’t sound as though a resumption in formal talks will come in time to save the Winter Classic, but it could save the remainder of the season, provided real progress is made over the next several weeks.

NATIONAL POST: Sean Fitzgerald reports the NHLPA isn’t showing any signs of cracking during this lockout.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports veteran NHL defenseman Sean O’Donnell is concerned his career could be over if this season is lost to lockout, but nevertheless is putting the NHLPA first.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to remain united in the early weeks of a lockout. Let’s see how united they are if the season is threatened, or is cancelled.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman, in his weekly “30 Thoughts” column, speculated the owners of ” Anaheim, Columbus, Florida, the Islanders, Phoenix, St. Louis, Washington and Dallas” are among the NHL’s “hardliners”. In other words, many of the teams which lost the most money in recent years.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis among NHL’s “hardliners”?

SPORTING NEWS: Sean Gentille speculates one reason Capitals owner Ted Leonsis may be among the hardliners is it would prevent him from having to pay stars Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in full.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that’s the reason, or one of the reasons, why Leonsis may be among the hardliners, that’s going to hurt his reputation among his players.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Rory Boylen believes the continuous cycle of lockouts following each NHL CBA undermines the league’s hopes of growing the game in the United States.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen is spot on, but the league doesn’t appear to understand the damage it keeps inflicting upon itself. Yes, most if not all of its die-hard fans will return, but the lockouts hampers efforts to attract a sizable number of new fans.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Araces suggests a lengthy lockout could benefit John Davidson, the Blue Jackets new president of hockey operations, allowing him more time to settle his family and adjust to his new role.

TORONTO SUN: A fraudster could be involved in the fledgling CHL Players Association, of which former NHLer Georges Laraque is executive director.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on this story, as it could turn into a significant blow for the CHLPA’s efforts to unionize junior players, and could prove a significant embarrassment for Laraque.