And so the much ballyhooed NHL Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings is officially ancient history. Is any hockey fan outside of Michigan supposed to shed a tear for this loss? It appears the Maple Leafs lucked out big time by having this game scrapped, thus preventing the team from thoroughly embarrassing themselves in front of a record 114,000 spectators in Ann Arbor and a national television audience in the millions.
The Maple Leafs were no doubt supposed to play the role of sacrificial lamb in this contest, since the franchise and its fans were being used by the league strictly for exposure purposes. The large Toronto fan base consisting of trained seals will flock to view any game, even if the team is fifty points out of a playoff spot. The Leafs’ fans should be relieved the game was canned and should pray it is not rescheduled. At least, not until the Toronto area can land a professional hockey team.
Although all of Canada is well aware of the never ending trials and tribulations of the ‘Make Believes’, most fans in the United States are oblivious to their perpetual incompetence. American hockey fans are probably more interested in why the Toronto organization cannot spell the word ‘leaves’ properly. If anything, the Leafs are a classic example of a financially sound team which has no financial incentive to improve on the ice, thanks to their loyal herds.
But how about the great historic rivalry between Detroit and Toronto you say? Yeah…whatever. Most of us who still have our memory in tact were not even born when these two teams were actual rivals. In the past couple of decades, all I can remember is the Red Wings winning a lot and the Maple Leafs losing a lot. How exactly does this make for an interesting rivalry? These two teams are not even in the same conference; and when you compare organizations, they are in different leagues all together.
One can hope, if the Winter Classic ever returns, the league has the good sense to include a Canadian opponent that actually knows how to play the game of hockey. Throwing one of the worst NHL teams over the past half century into the league’s most important showcase game shows just how desperate the NHL has become to generate artificial interest in a meaningless regular season game. And of course, having a stronger American team against an inferior Canadian team does not hurt the league in its continuing effort to Americanize the NHL, a welfare organization currently subsidized by the more profitable Canadian clubs.
Au revoir Winter Classic – you will not be missed. Considering the NHL’s agenda driven matchup, the game would have been far more forgettable than today’s cancellation.
Regardless of the reasons, give the league their props for icing this loser. And who says the NHL cannot do anything right?