It’s all but confirmed by the NHL at this point, but it’s becoming pretty clear that the Maple Leafs will travel to the University of Michigan’s Big House for a game against the Red Wings, a venue that has hosted outdoor hockey before.

This would be the first time two teams from different conferences would meet in the yearly outdoor game (if you look past the Hertiage Classic), and also the first time we’d see a Canadian team in the made-for-NBC event.

From Pension Plan Puppets:

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will be playing in the 2013 Winter Classic at the University of Michigan’s Big House. Bob McKenzie confirmed as much on TSN’s Insider Trading last night in the intermission of the Montreal-Boston game.

Check out the link to Pension Plan Puppets for more good stuff. They also included McKenzie’s direct quote, which was:

I can in fact confirm those reports that the NHL’s desire is that the Leafs play the Wings at the Big House. It’ll be configured for 115k.  It’s not finalized yet, but by the end of the month there’s expected to be a formal announcement. The NHL is well down the road.

Puck Daddy did some reporting on the subject earlier in the week as well, and seemed to reach similar conclusions. Obviously nothing is going to be outright confirmed until the ink is dry on the contracts, but we’re not even hearing suggestions of other teams or venues (outside of Comerica Park if The Big House falls through). These are our teams.

With being in the Winter Classic, fans of both teams get a couple other perks, like an alumni game (can’t imagine how loud the reception from Leafs fans would be for Mats Sundin, Wendel Clark and Doug(ie) Gilmour), and the privilege of being on HBO’s 24/7 (assuming HBO has interest in following these two teams).

While I’m cool with the match-up, I fear for my precious 24/7.

Steve Lepore of Puck the Media is pretty in-tune with ratings and media numbers in general, and he seems pretty sure having a Canadian team involved in the game is a horrible idea, and will be a turn off for HBO, and eventually NBC. Or at least that’s the impression I get from his tweets.

You have to assume the NHL will approve the matchup with their major partners before announcing it, so I think that bodes well for the show to carry on for another season. On the other hand, these teams only play each other a couple times a year and the Leafs haven’t seen the Red Wings in playoffs since 1993, so who the hell knows.

Either way, congrats to the fans of both teams. I look forward to seeing you in Detroit.