Winter Classic will be dormant this seasonThe NHL has put one of its signature events on ice. The Winter Classic, scheduled between Detroit and Toronto for Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium, became the latest casualty of the league’s lockout.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The NHL has put one of its signature events on ice.
The Winter Classic, scheduled between Detroit and Toronto for Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium, became the latest casualty of the league’s lockout.
“The logistical demands for staging events of this magnitude made today’s decision unavoidable,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Friday. “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.”
Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall was bummed out, too. He was looking forward to facing the Maple Leafs in a matchup of two Original Six teams in the home of college football’s winningest team.
“It’s obviously very sad,” Kronwall told The Associated Press. “The Winter Classic is one of the highlights of the year, and this is something everyone has been looking to because playing at the Big House would’ve been something very special.”
Don Fehr, the players’ union executive director, called the decision “unnecessary and unfortunate, as was the owners’ implementation of the lockout itself.”
“The fact that the season has not started is a result of a unilateral decision by the owners; the players have always been ready to play while continuing to negotiate in good faith,” he said. “We look forward to the league’s return to the bargaining table, so that the parties can find a way to end the lockout at the earliest possible date, and get the game back on the ice for the fans.”
The league said it would schedule the next Winter Classic at the stadium, which holds more than 100,000 people and had been expected to set a record for attendance at a hockey game. Among other things, the event called for a winter festival about 45 miles away in Detroit and the construction of two outdoor rinks for multiple college and youth teams.
Some 400,000 people were expected in the area over the New Year’s weekend, filling hotel rooms, restaurants and bars.