As you likely know by now, the NHL cancelled the Winter Classic – from Katie Strang and Craig Custance of ESPN:
The NHL has decided to cancel the Winter Classic, which was slated to feature the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan’s football stadium in Ann Arbor on Jan. 1, a source told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun on Friday.
In the six weeks since the lockout began, the work stoppage has caused the cancellation of hundreds of regular-season games, significant revenue loss and what may be irreversible damage to the game’s reputation.
Friday, however, was the darkest day yet.
A source familiar with the league’s plan had told LeBrun the decision to cancel the game was green-lighted after a final internal meeting at NHL offices in New York on Friday morning. The league is expected to announce the cancellation on Friday afternoon.
That leaves me with questions:
* If the NHL and NHLPA come to terms next week, is there any chance for a reversal of that? Could they return calls to the sponsors, apologize, and try to go forward with it?
(UPDATE: Nope. It ain’t happening. Thanks to Pizzo for the tip.)
* Would the NHL have a season that starts Dec. 1st (or whenever), and carry on without the Classic? I don’t think it’s impossible.
* Does the NHL realize how much worse a severely shortened season is than just a mildly shortened one? I have no interest in a 40 game NHL season. Hey sweet, the Wild or some random team will win the Cup, awesome!
* This is such a curious domino to fall so soon – did the NHL just desperately want to eliminate an NHLPA negotiating chip before they return to the table?
Hopefully the coming days will bring answers. For now, we’re just left with the fact: no Winter Classic, no HBO 24/7, no alumni game.
One last question: what the hell are these guys doing?