With just a few words, the NHL officially cancelled the 2013 Winter Classic, which had been scheduled for Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor and would have pitted the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six matchup.
The move is another step closer to what fans and players fear–the cancellation of the entire season. The next thing to be dropped, aside from all of December’s and January’s games, would be the 2013 All-Star Game in Columbus at the end of January. During the last lockout, the All-Star Game was cancelled in early November 2004 and the entire season was canceled in February 2005.
The loss of the game isn’t just a loss for fans–it’s also a huge kick in the gut for the city of Detroit, which was hoping for the infusion of $50-60 million dollars in tourist revenue in the weeks leading up to the game. But that’s not all they lose: the cancellation of the Winter Classic also means no Hockeytown Winter Festival, which was to be held at Comerica Park. One of the main features was supposed to be a game held there by the OHL as well as the Great Lakes Invitational. That’s not just one game to be relocated, but five: the OHL game and the four tournament games. The worst loss is the two Winter Classic alumni games.
Never fear, the Winter Classic will be held in Detroit in 2014, but the economic damage is already done.
Detroit’s economy is hanging on and the Winter Classic and Hockeytown Festival would’ve given it a bit of new life. Without those, it’ll be an unhappy new year in the Motor City.