Monday, November 05, 2012

Winter Classic Cancelled

The NHL continues to slowly kill itself. They've cancelled the biggest single TV event on the NHL calendar. The Winter Classic was one of the things that helped the NHL rebound from the previous Lockout, and now it's been cancelled by a League determined to destroy itself and the game.

Over 100,000 were going to attend the 2013 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, filling Michigan's Big House with rabid hockey fans supporting the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. Two Original 6 teams, two of the most storied franchises in the sport. The game was to be in a state and nearby city that have remained loyal to the game for decades.

And now they've been screwed because the NHL wants to keep teams in Florida and Arizona. And because owners of teams like the Maple Leafs don't want to share revenue with those teams.

The 2013 Winter Classic would have been part of a larger revitalization of Detroit sports that's been happening for several years now. The Detroit Tigers are very good, the Lions are no longer the joke they once were. The NHL could have been a part of that. Opportunity lost.

Furthermore, Michigan is a hockey hotbed. And not just the Red Wings. There's an AHL team in Michigan, an ECHL team, 7 Division-I college teams (that's about 1/8 of the country's total), even a pair of junior teams in the Ontario Hockey League. It's a state that loves hockey, and hockey has screwed them. Some of those teams would have played at Comerica Park in Detroit. This Winter Classic would have involved two venues, two outdoor rinks, a bevy of games, a multitude of events, and an entire state's attention. Opportunity lost.

It's just sad. This lockout is killing the game, not just the League. People and places once interested in the game are finding other things to do and to watch.

Michigan will likely "be awarded" the 2014 Winter Classic, but do you think they'll be as excited, as enthused about it? Why would they be? Why should they be?

Imagine if this had happened to Boston, and how we'd treat the next year's Classic.

And what if you're a city and considering hosting a Winter Classic the year an NHL CBA expires. What city would want to sign that deal? Winter Classic 2014: Grand Forks, North Dakota.

I'm tired of the NHL, and I hope this Lockout either destroys the League or brings about dramatic, sweeping changes. Jeremy Jacobs needs to be visited by three ghosts Ebeneezer Scrooge style, Gary Bettman needs a lobotomy, and hockey needs to be banned in Florida and Arizona, thus forcing the collapse of failing NHL franchises.

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