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NHL Winter Classic Officially Canceled

According to ESPN, the event that was supposed to break attendance records and be a world spectacle is no more.  I reported last week that this was a possibility, but now it has become a reality.


The NHL cancelled the Winter Classic today, and the outdoor game between the Original six rivals will never come to fruition.  The Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs will not get to star in HBO’s 24/7, and the Winter Festival taking place at Comerica Park will be cancelled as well.

It’s an utter shame that this is what the lockout has come to.  The players and the Owners are so wrapped up in getting the best deal’s for themselves that they have seemingly forgotten about the fans.  Sure the NHL will say that they needed enough time to build the two rinks and notify their sponsors, but this is merely a cop out.  They could easily have the rinks built in time had they truly wanted the game to happen.  No, this is a money issue.  The NHL Owners are being disgustingly cheap and are trying to get out of paying as much as possible.

The Winter Classic helped grow the game; it helped put the NHL back into the spotlight.  But after it’s cancellation today, all that will happen is that the growth will dwindle, and this lockout will do nothing but continue to decimate the game and it’s popularity.

The real question is, did they ever consider the fact that they could lose fans and have a smaller revenue pot to share from?  Perhaps.  If they have been, they have done a good job disguising it.

They’ve said that the Big House will host next year’s Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto, which will be a change of pace from what happened during the last lockout.  In 2004-2005 when the lockout lasted the whole year, and the All-Star game was cancelled, and the Atlanta Thrashers were supposed to be the host.  Atlanta didn’t end up getting to host an All-Star game until 2008 after they had it taken away.

Sure the Winter Classic at the Big House with the Winter Festival is a far bigger spectacle. One that was supposed to bring in $75-80 Million dollars to the Ann Arbor and Detroit areas.  But obviously, the NHL doesn’t care about this.  They just don’t want the players to use the game as leverage to get a better deal in favor of the players.  Which is a shame because the state of Michigan could use the money, not to mention the fans could use something amazing to see.


The NHL has now released a statement saying that the Winter Classic will be held at the Big House next year between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.  Fans will be able to either keep their tickets for next year or refund them for money.  The NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly had this to say, “The logistical demands for staging events of this magnitude made today’s decision unavoidable. We simply are out of time.  We are extremely disappointed, for our fans and for all those affected, to have to cancel the Winter Classic and Hockeytown Winter Festival events.  We look forward to bringing the next Winter Classic and the Hockeytown Winter Festival to Michigan,” Daly added.

Essentially the NHL has simply delayed the Winter Classic and the Hockeytown Winter Festival in Michigan one year.  While it’s frustrating to lose it for this year, hockey fans in Michigan should consider this to be a small victory; since it was never guaranteed that they would get the game again.

And who knows now if HBO will continue to do the 24/7 show.  They almost weren’t going to do it this year because HBO has a new executive in their Sports division, and he wasn’t thrilled with keeping it.  The NHL could have possibly ruined the best part of the Winter Classic for every team in the future by cancelling this event.

For this, I am going to have trouble continuing to respect the NHL.  They are petty and nobody seems to care about the fans.  It seems to me that they are on the brink of losing another full season.  With the cancellation of the Winter Classic and potentially the All-Star game, the players will have nothing to use against the owners, and the players don’t want to take any of the current CBA deals that are being offered to them.

Even Red Wings’ defenseman Ian White is concerned: “If he’s [commissioner Gary Bettman] willing to cancel that, I don’t know why he’d want to play a season after that, because that’s the highlight of the year,” White told Bob Duff of the Windsor Star on Tuesday. “So if he’s willing to throw away that game, then the balance of the season, I would think, is definitely on the line. So it’s terrible if that’s what’s going through his mind.”

They have gotten to a stand-still, and a dangerous one at that.  I was once hopeful about the season starting at a reasonable time, but now it is looking more and more bleak.  You would think that they would have all learned their lesson after the 2004-05 lockout, but it appears that they have learned nothing.

And for those of you that care and want to know which teams are driving the lockout and are responsible for this travesty, here you go:

We will continue to update this story as the NHL releases their official statements.


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