Upon the announcement that the 2013 NHL Winter Classic would be held at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, it was going to be the biggest display of the annual outdoor show the league had to date.
The perfect storm was set. Two original six teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs (yes, a Canadian team for the first time) and the Red Wings, playing in front of over 110,000 fans to ring in another new year. HBO's cameras would be following both teams around leading up to the game, giving us an inside look at Brian Burke's struggle to make the Leafs a contender again. One of the many stories to follow during Leafs-Wings 24/7. Don't forget the jerseys too. Both teams with long histories, will unveil another jersey they would wear on January 1 and sell to the fans. How about the alumni game? Yes! Oh Yes! The greats from both teams coming back to play against each other! Yes!
Too bad the lockout killed the excitement....and the game.
While both sides can't come to an agreement on a new deal, with one side being as ridiculous as the other, the big event could have been the leverage the owners needed to reach an agreement by November. The threat of cancelling the Winter Classic did not prove to be enough for both sides to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement. Millions of dollars have been lost already with no hockey going on. Ann Arbor just lost millions of dollars in revenue. Hopefully, the town gets to still host the game in 2014, if there is one.
Although the game has been cancelled, does this send a message that the entire season is in jeopardy? Will it be enough to get talks going again? Losing that date on the first of January is tough enough, but losing the entire season is more debilitating to the league.
There are no games in November as of now. One can only hope that the owners and players can take the time to sit down and have a longer, more productive meeting in the next few weeks, or if we are all lucky enough, days to come.
So enjoy the bowl games on New Years Day, and hopefully we have hockey back up and running by then minus the outdoor game.