This is really disappointing news and not a good sign for the state of the lockout. Obviously there is a lot of planning involved in organizing an outdoor hockey game but it can’t be a good sign that the league is already cancelling a game scheduled for 2 months from now.
The Winter Classic is beautiful. Aesthetically, it is really pleasing to watch hockey be played outdoors and there is that innocent, kids playing on a frozen pond, feel to it. In 5 short years, the Winter Classic has become the most anticipated event of the hockey regular season, easily surpassing the All-Star Game and skills competition. It creates a spectacle and the extra attention paid to it greatly benefits the league. HBO even capitalized by doing its fantastic 24/7 series on the two participating teams in the weeks leading up to the game. This will be missed as well.
It’s amazing to see fans pack into a baseball stadium or any other outdoor stadium in the dead of winter to watch a hockey game. The sight lines and proximity are far inferior to that of a game being played in a normal arena, but you can bet 9 out of 10 hockey fans would choose attending a Winter Classic over any normal regular season game. This year’s was set to have the Red Wings host the Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium (“The Big House” as it as more commonly known), which seats 110,000 people. Having two original 6 teams play in front of what would have been the largest hockey crowd in history would have been electric. This cancellation is a huge loss for the NHL, the owners, the players, NBC and most importantly the fans.
Hockey is the the third major sport to have a work stoppage in the last 2 years. Fans are becoming accustomed to lockouts, but it always hurts when a part of the season that you especially enjoy and look forward to will not happen. Hopefully the players and owners can work out a deal before an entire season is lost. Either way though, it won’t be the same without the Winter Classic.