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January 13, 2012 - 6:10am

NHL planning for Red Wings, Leafs in Winter Classic at the Big House


File Photo/Daily

It appears that the 2013 Winter Classic at the Big House is all but official.

TSN's Bob McKenzie confirmed last night that the NHL's desire is that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings meet at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, 2013 for the sixth annual Winter Classic.

"It's not finalized yet, but by the end of the month there's expected to be a formal announcement," McKenzie said. "The NHL is well down the road."

This comes a week after Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon acknowledged that Michigan and the NHL were in discussions over using the football stadium for its second hockey game — the first being The Big Chill at the Big House last December, an even that drew 110,000-plus.

“We have been approached by the NHL about utilizing our facility for the 2013 Winter Classic,” Brandon said in a statement released this week. “There are a lot of complex circumstances that need to be ironed out before anything moves forward. We will have more to say if/when something materializes.”

McKenzie said that the stadium would be configured for 115,000 patrons, which would make it the largest attendance ever at a hockey game, surpassing the Big Chill.

The Leafs would become the first Canadian team to take part in the Winter Classic, but would like have fans streaming across the Blue Water Bridge to attend the Winter Classic.