Winter Classic Cancellation: The NHL Hates Holiday Fun

Sorry, Henrik Zetterberg, but Scrooge just got in the way of your New Year’s Day fun. Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

With the cancellation of the 2013 Winter Classic–which has no resurrection scenario built in for re-staging at any point in an abbreviated 2012-13 season–comes irrefutable proof that the NHL is basically the biggest Ebenezer Scrooge of the 2012 holiday season.

Bah humbug, says Gary Bettman and Bill Daly and all the rest when it comes to the idea of holding at least two weeks of hockey-related festivities in the cash-strapped greater Detroit metro area, a city that could use all the legitimate tourism dollars it can get.

Who needs alumni games, amateur games, open skates, an OHL double-header, an AHL game and then, of course, the Winter Classic itself? Sorry, all you minor-level players and regular folks with skates who dreamed of even taking just one spin on special outdoor ice constructed in one of the biggest college football stadiums around.

Bah humbug to all you fans, casual and passionate alike, who wanted to sit down on New Year’s Day (maybe while nursing a hangover, or maybe not) and just enjoy the general festive and fun atmosphere of the Winter Classic, regardless of if your favorite team was set to take the ice.

There’s something so amusing about the differences between indoor and outdoor games: the effects of weather, the eye-black the players may don to block the glare of the sun, the dapper old-school jackets and fedoras the coaches wear, the real-time weather forecasting of Jim Cantore, the marching bands that usher the players onto the ice, everything.

The Winter Classic is just fun, even if you’re not fond of the two teams in it. Another fun thing about the Winter Classic that will definitely not be happening if there’s no Winter Classic to cover? HBO’s immensely popular 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic four-part series. Nope, sorry, you don’t get to learn about which players on Detroit or Toronto are notoriously foul-mouthed or if any of them are as quirky as Ilya Bryzgalov or if any coach is as fond of ice cream as Bruce Boudreau.

Pretty much every fan I know, regardless of team affiliation, genuinely enjoys 24/7 because it provides insight that we never get to see otherwise. Plus, it’s on HBO, so there’s no bleeping. That’s fun, too.

This cancellation is just more proof that the NHL is out to ruin fun in your holiday season. Axing every game set to be played in November 2012 also meant canceling the Thanksgiving Showdown, which is perhaps improperly named because it is played on Black Friday, but is still fun nonetheless. Last year, the game was advertised with a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is kind of a big deal.

Fans who claim to be above the Winter Classic, who don’t care about some crappy game between two teams they don’t like, should focus less on their own Scrooge-ness and think more about the big picture–more about how just that much fun has gone out of other people’s lives.

That’s not to mention the obvious economic impact all around, which touches more people than some may think on first blush. For example: what sponsors will be willing to put their name on a product that just randomly ceases to exist every eight years or so? Sure, rumor has it that the NHL is just going to put the 2014 Winter Classic right back in Detroit, but that’s not going to make it any easier for people in the area who were kind of depending on the event happening this year.

If the NHL goes ahead and cancels the 2013 All-Star Game at some point in the foreseeable future, that is how you will know they truly hate fun.

Oh, but the good news is that reportedly CBA talks will resume in the near future. Yeah, we all know just how much fun those are and how productive they are. Pardon my sarcasm.

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