Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 will go down as the darkest day of the 2012 NHL lockout.
The NHL and NHLPA have still yet to reach a new collective bargaining agreement which has resulted in the cancelation of hundreds of games, which has led to significant revenue loss and potentially irreversible damage to the game's reputation.
Friday, however, marked the cancelation of the Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs that was scheduled to take place at the University of Michigan's football stadium in Ann Arbor on Jan. 1.
"It's definitely very disappointing," Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "Not only was I looking forward to it but so were all my friends and family. It was going to be a great event not just for us but all the businesses and hotels and fans excited to see us and Toronto play."
This game is the most significant casualty of the lockout. It's the league's signature event and a huge money-maker. Its cancelation is likely the beginning of the end for the 2012-13 NHL season.
"That's one of those things that you were really looking forward to this year," said Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "Everyone here, not only the players but the fans. Everyone would be bummed out."
The Winter Classic is touted by the NHL as a celebration of the game, so canceling sends a a tough message after a league-imposed lockout has wiped out almost the first two months of the season.
Although both parties have said a deal can salvage whatever is left of a possible season, this cancelation shows that it's very likely that an NHL season won't materialize.
As part of the league's contract with the University of Michigan, a required payment by the NHL was due today. Since the event was canceled today, the league would only owe the university $100,000. Had they failed to cancel the even today, and ended up canceling the Winter Classic at a later date, the league would owe the university more than $2.5 million by mid-January.
This is not believed to be the biggest deal-breaker, however.
The league did not want to host such an event without the usual bells and whistles — HBO's "24/7"show documenting the event would've been virtually impossible to pull off — and it did not want the pageantry of the event tainted by the work stoppage.
Nonetheless, today marks a sad, sad day for the NHL.
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