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Saturday, June 20, 2009
Canada wants its own Winter Classic

By Scott Burnside

LAS VEGAS -- While there is much clamoring for a second Winter Classic game in Calgary next January 1, if history is any indicator look for the NHL's competition committee to put the kibosh on the plan when they meet Thursday.

NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly acknowledged there was pressure from Canadian fans and Canadian national broadcaster, the CBC, who felt excluded by the Winter Classic process which, by next Jan. 1, will have featured six American-based teams.

Because the outdoor game is the broadcasting property of American network NBC there is likely little appetite to include Canadian teams in what has become an annual event.

Kelly said he respects Canadians interest in being part of the Winter Classic experience but added, "The more outdoor games that you have you kind of water down the special quality and nature of the event. From that standpoint I would have preferred to have one event."

The event, tentatively slated for McMahon Stadium in Calgary for Jan. 1 after the Winter Classic game set for Boston's Fenway Park, must be approved by the seven of 10 voting members of the competition committee.

Asked if he would instruct the five players who sit on the committee to vote against a second outdoor game, Kelly said he didn't think that would be necessary.

"I don't think I have to do that. I will tell you that last year when the competition committee met this issue came up and all five players and, in fact, all voting members of both sides of the fence did not support a second Winter Classic game," Kelly said.