NHL Detroit Red WingsToronto Maple Leafs

2013 Winter Classic Canceled; NHL and NHLPA Continue Playing Chicken

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

So now that the 2013 Winter Classic has been canceled, who is more likely to blink first in this lockout: The players or the owners? Both think they are screwing the other side over by playing this game of chicken with one of the NHL’s biggest events, but is this really the case? Or is this just another game to the whole lot of them?

Before today, if you were the players, you might have been thinking that the NHL couldn’t possibly want to cancel the best thing that has happened to it since the last lockout occurred. It’s a guaranteed moneymaker, a source of great buzz and press for a league that is sorely lacking in both of those departments, and it’s a marquee event that actually can draw in casual fans. The NHL desperately needs all of these things, so the players must have thought the longer they held out, the more likely the league would cave on some of their demands and get a deal done so that this shining jewel of an event could be held again. Wrong.

And as for the owners, is it possible that they felt there was no way the players would want to have this event nixed even though it involved only two teams—the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs—and they both happen to be two of the biggest Haves in a league of Almost-Haves and Have-Nots? Was this the owners’ trump card for getting the players to capitulate and agree to their demands just so that some semblance of the 2012-2013 season could be salvaged? If so, they played the wrong card.

As has been the case all along, nobody wins here. The players and the owners all look like colossally selfish and short-sighted fools, and the fans are left out to dry. And with regard to the problems the league is facing, nothing changes here because both sides are still adamantly opposed to negotiating and neither side is willing to bend. The way things are going, an abbreviated season of 40 or so games might be about the only hope fans have left, and even that is seeming more and more unlikely.

And as for the future of the Winter Classic? The next one—which will hopefully take place in 2014—will still be at Michigan Stadium and feature the Red Wings and Maple Leafs as opponents, just like this one was supposed to. So hooray for nothing changing and for everyone losing in all of this mess.