WINNIPEG — Training camps, exhibition games and the first two months of the regular season have all been scrubbed. And the latest casualty of the NHL lockout is the Winter Classic.
This year's outdoor classic was scheduled for New Year’s Day, at University of Michigan between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The league has financial commitments ahead of the event and has decided, with no deal in sight with the NHL Players Association, it doesn’t want the risk.
"The logistical demands for staging events of this magnitude made today’s decision unavoidable," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in the league’s announcement statement. "We simply are out of time.
"We are extremely disappointed, for our fans and for all those affected, to have to cancel the Winter Classic and Hockeytown Winter Festival events."
The NHL also announced the Hockeytown Winter Festival events scheduled for Dec. 16-31 at Comerica Park in Detroit are cancelled.
A total of 326 games to the end of November have already been scuttled.
This morning at the MTS Iceplex — before the actual cancellation was made, though it was widely expected — locked-out Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd said there’s disappointment all around that one of the highlights of the NHL season is now out the window.
"That’s unfortunate, obviously," Ladd said. "That’s a big event, especially for the U.S. market. It’s something that’s helped grow out the game immensely in the years that it’s been here.
"To lose that game, I think is, or will be really disappointing, something we don’t need as a league."
Ladd didn’t seem all that interested in labour-speak about the cancellation of the Winter Classic being a league bargaining tactic.
"I don’t know," he began. "At this point you never know. It seems like they’ve had a gameplan since the start. I’m sure in every negotiation, they have one. But at this point, I think it would be nice to just get rid of all that junk and actually start negotiating.
"But they seem to have their terms and they only want to meet on those terms. From our standpoint, that’s not going to get a deal done."