The Winter Classic was canceled by the NHL Friday, the league’s signature regular-season event becoming the most recent casualty of the lockout.
Scheduled for Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, the 2013 Winter Classic was expected to break attendance and revenue records. The decision to call it off came the day the first payment was due from the NHL to the University of Michigan.
“The logistical demands for staging events of this magnitude made today’s decision unavoidable. We simply are out of time,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. “We are extremely disappointed, for our fans and for all those affected, to have to cancel the Winter Classic and Hockeytown Winter Festival events.”
When this lockout began Sept. 15, it seemed nearly impossible to comprehend the NHL sacrificing the Winter Classic. It looked like the perfect jump-start to a shortened season and a way to attract hockey fans back after the bitterness of the past few months.
Instead, it’s gone. The league and NHL Players’ Association have not had formal talks since Oct. 18.
“The Big House” in Ann Arbor will host the 2014 Winter Classic, still between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. That means Washington will have to wait until at least 2015 to host the event.