It was called the Winter Classic because it had become just that, a classic game that every hockey fan looked forward to. For the past six years it was always the same day, January 1 and would feature the heritage jerseys between two teams with not only a rich and deep history, but a rivalry that extends into decades past. And for the fist time since it’s inception in 2008 when the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins, the NHL will not have a Winter Classic.
Despite the Classic still being just under two months away and because construction of the rink typically doesn’t start until December, some fans are wondering why the league chose to cancel it this early. It’s quite simple really. Gary Bettman is already losing millions with the regular season cancelled through November and if he was to hold on to the hope of getting the Classic in, he would stand to lose more money.
The game was set to be played at The Big House at the University of Michigan and according to TSN.ca the school requested a deposit of $250,000 to be paid today in the form of renting the venue. The remaining payments were scheduled to be on December 7 and 28 and both of those were to be for $1 million dollars. The remaining $650,000 was said to be due on January 18.
This year’s Winter Classic had two original six teams set to clash when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs were gearing up to write another chapter in the Classic’s book. But alas we are not only left with no hockey, we won’t have the traditional outdoor game to watch on New Year’s Day, a great way to kick off a new year. It was also said to be the largest outdoor game in the history of hockey with a crowd over 105,000 expected. It would surpass “The Big Chill” NCAA game that was held in Michigan in 2010.
The cancelled game also means the league won’t have the popular HBO documentary series 24/7 promoting their league in a way that makes even the smallest hockey fan become interested in the frozen sport.
Not only is the league losing out on revenue, but the city of Detroit will also feel the effects of the cancelled game. Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers was set to host numerous outdoor games surrounding the Winter Classic, ranging from the alumni game, to junior, college and the American Hockey League taking their turn at playing in the outdoors.
TSN is reporting that a source close to the situation believes the NHL will grant Detroit the Winter Classic in 2014 should a new CBA be in place in time. The game will again be slated for Michigan Stadium.
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