NHL officially cancels 2013 Winter Classic, vows next game will be at Michigan Stadium
- Related story: Winter Classic canceled: Event would have had $15M estimated impact on Ann Arbor area economy
The National Hockey League officially canceled the 2013 NHL Winter Classic on Friday afternoon.
After weeks of speculation that the annual New Year's Day outdoor game, scheduled to to be played at Michigan Stadium, would get the axe, the league finally made it official. The game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will not be played.
"This is an unfortunate announcement but one that looked imminent given the current labor situation between the NHL and its players," said Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon in a press release. "We knew this was a possibility but we stayed prepared in the event the labor dispute would get resolved."
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“Our relationship with the NHL has been terrific,” added Brandon. “Both parties have a mutual interest in making the Winter Classic a successful and historical event. We are glad they committed to bring the next game to the Big House, matching the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.”
Along with the Winter Classic, the Hockeytown Winter Festival, which was to include an outdoor Great Lakes Invitational, at Comerica Park has been canceled. Any ticket refunds will be handled directly by the NHL, Red Wings and Maple Leafs according to Brandon's statement.
In a statement released on Friday, Red Wings officials said original ticket purchasers will be contacted via email by Tuesday, November 6 with the option of receiving a full refund on tickets and associated fees or maintaining their tickets for future Winter Classic and Winter Festival events.
Officials with Michigan Tech, host of the annual tournament, said the GLI will be played in Joe Louis Arena Dec. 29, 30, two days later than originally scheduled.
Here is the entire announcement from NHL.com:
The National Hockey League today announced the cancellation of the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The game was scheduled for Jan. 1 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. In addition, the League announced all SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival events scheduled for Dec. 16-31 at Comerica Park in Detroit are cancelled.
The next NHL Winter Classic - featuring the Red Wings and Maple Leafs - and Hockeytown Winter Festival will take place at the University of Michigan and Comerica Park, respectively. Those who have purchased tickets for the 2012-13 events can either receive refunds or maintain their tickets for the future events. Ticket refund information for the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival can be found at: nhl.com/winterclassicrefund.
The cancellation was necessary because, given the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL, the League was not in a position to do all that is necessary to adequately stage events of this magnitude. This year's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the companion SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival called for the construction of major outdoor rink facilities at both Comerica Park and 'The Big House'. Multiple games involving teams from the NHL, NCAA, American Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, high school and local minor hockey leagues were scheduled, requiring travel and hotel commitments. Beyond the construction of two major outdoor rink facilities, the combined events were preparing to welcome nearly 400,000 guests to Detroit and Ann Arbor over the holiday period.
"The logistical demands for staging events of this magnitude made today's decision unavoidable. We simply are out of time," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "We are extremely disappointed, for our fans and for all those affected, to have to cancel the Winter Classic and Hockeytown Winter Festival events."
"We look forward to bringing the next Winter Classic and the Hockeytown Winter Festival to Michigan," Daly added.
Pete Cunningham covers sports for AnnArbor.com.