It was talked about a lot over the week, but it looks like it’s official now. The NHL cancels 2013 Winter Classic between the Detroit Redwings and Toronto Maple Leafs in Michigan has been yanked. However, if it is of any consolation, it will be back for 2014. Same teams and same venue, just pushed back by a year.
When I have been reading through Twitter on the reaction to the cancelation news, it has been one of apathy instead of right off rage. The lockout has been taking its toll on fans everywhere and no-one yet knows how many ‘new’ fans the game has lost because of the lockout.
Not only is the loss of the winter classic a blow to the league, it is also a blow to the revenue that would have been generated by the league, the two teams and the city of Michigan from the tourism the event would have driven into the town, not forgetting the HBO hi series 24/7. So not only a big PR and marketing fail, but something that marks the loss of big bucks, which in itself is a bit funny given that the lockout is about money.
There was no word, whether current sponsors of the event would stay on board, or if they would be withdrawing their support of the Winter Classic, but certainly the whole lockout has caused a few heads to be scratched at the sponsors respective HQ’s. Additionally, will HBO do an ESPN on the NHL and scrap the 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic in favour of something else and more permanent.
Every NHL winter classic has been a sell out so far and the NHL is banking on the fans coming back, even after the lockout, whenever it comes to its end. However, if the lockout is for the whole season there is a chance that by then, some fans will have come around, and will attend the event, but the longer the lockout carries on without any real progress or negotiations, the more apathetic the fan base will grow.
With no negotiations having been held for two weeks now, the only news of the negotiations is that the two sides have been in touch saying that they are happy to negotiate, but as of yet, no date, time or location has been set