Gretzky hopes for NHL labor deal by Winter Classic

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TORONTO (AP) -- The Great One is optimistic about the NHL's labor situation.

Wayne Gretzky says he thinks the league's lockout will end before the showcase Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

During a question and answer period at a panel discussion on personal finance Monday, Gretzky said "I believe in my heart, maybe because I'm such a big hockey fan, that they will be playing by Jan. 1."

Detroit and Toronto are scheduled to play outdoors at Michigan Stadium to kick off the new year.

Gretzky says he believes "the hard part of their deal was the last negotiations (in 2004) of players agreeing to a salary cap."