The lockout has officially claimed the 2013 Winter Classic. A report filed to ESPN states the event which would have featured the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan will not be taking place.
The prized Winter Classic was one of the NHL's biggest success stories over the last few years. Now it too has fallen victim to the current lockout and it has fans asking if the rest of the 2012-13 season is next on the chopping block.
This is a huge, huge loss for the hockey community. The Winter Classic isn't just a regular season game. It isn't just a quirky event. It's one of the biggest revenue generators that the NHL has. The fact that they, and the players, let this lockout go long enough to kill off such a large cash generator really demonstrates the moronic minds at work.
As Jonathan Willis notes, the 2011-12 Winter Classic had better ratings than five of the six games from the Stanley Cup Finals. The Winter Classic is the television event of the NHL season, whether fans want to admit it or not. The Classic brings in serious fans, casual fans and even those that aren't fans but are curious about the sport. The Classic is a celebration of hockey. It's only fitting that it's canceled given the fact both the owners and players only have money, not hockey, on their brain.
As the Winter Classic falls, so too does HBO's NHL 24/7. The series was a gem for the NHL, offering fans and non-fans a rare look behind the sport. It's a shame it won't be on this year but it's not shocking. We doubt HBO would want to offer a sneak peak at how players spend their lockout (golf, video games, complaining).
Essentially, things can be summed up as follows:
The NHL had a lot of good things going for it. Record revenue. A huge, outdoor event that people desperately wanted to be apart of. A fantastic series on HBO. The NHL has let their ego, and the ego of the players, ruin all of that. Will it pay off in the end? We're not sure. Will it really matter how the pie is divided when the pie keeps shrinking due to your own incompetence?
Don't fall victim to the damage control that will flow from the NHL. Don't buy into their story that the event would be better off put on hold until next year so that they can do it right. The NHL could have easily done it right this year and that all starts by waking up, having some common sense and ending this pointless lockout.
The NHL desperately wants to be considered amongst the big trio of sports (MLB, NFL, NBA) in the United States. It's time to start acting like one. The NHL can't, and won't, be taken seriously until they can act like the big boys.