Crown Jewel Winter Classic An NHL Lockout Victim; ASG, Stanley Cup May Be Next

By Barry Janoff

November 3, 2012: The on-going dispute between the NHL and the NHL PLayers Assn. has taken another bite out of the 2012-13 season: On the heels of canceling all games through Nov. 30, the league has also eliminated its crown jewels, the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

The NHL is nearing a decision to pull the plug on the 2012-13 All-Star Game, currently scheduled for Jan. 27 in Columbus, Ohio.

Both sides are said to be meeting in New York this weekend, but remain far apart.

The NHL cancelled the entire 2004-05 season, also due to a labor dispute. The NHL is moving closer to canceling more of the season, and ultimately the Stanley Cup playoffs, unless a deal is negotiated.

The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was scheduled for Jan. 1 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. It would have aired nationally on NBC.

Also affected were all games and events scheduled to take place as part of the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival Dec. 16-31 at Comerica Park in Detroit. Most if not all of the NHL's marketing partners were scheduled to have a presence during the Hockeytown Winter Festival.

The NHL said that both events would be rescheduled for the same venues in 2014.

The NHL said that the cancellation was necessary because "given the absence of a collective bargaining agreement between the NHL Players' Assn. and the NHL, the league was not in a position to do all that is necessary to adequately stage events of this magnitude."

The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival required the construction of major outdoor rink facilities at both Comerica Park and the University of Michigan stadium.

"The logistical demands for staging events of this magnitude made today's decision unavoidable. We simply are out of time," Bill Daly, NHL deputy commission, 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."

"The logistical demands for staging events of this magnitude made today's decision unavoidable. We simply are out of time."

The overall slate of events was not a complete washout.

The 48th Annual Great Lakes Invitational featuring the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University and Western Michigan University will be played indoors at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 29-30.

An American Hockey League game between the Toronto Marlies and Grand Rapids Griffins will now take place on Dec. 29 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.

An Ontario Hockey League doubleheader scheduled outdoors at Comercia Park will move to two venues.

A game between the Windsor Spitfires and Saginaw Spirit scheduled for Dec. 29 will move to the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, MI, that same night.

And a game between the London Knights and Plymouth Whalers scheduled for Dec. 29 will move to Compuware Arena in Plymouth Township, MI, that same night.

According to Daly, the NHL was optimistic about the 2013-14 season. "We look forward to bringing the next Winter Classic and the Hockeytown Winter Festival to Michigan."

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