In the midst of the NHL Lockout, the League announced Friday that the Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium as well as all corresponding events leading up would be cancelled.
Those events leading up to the Winter Classic on January 1st were AHL, college, high school and alumni games that were to take place at Comerica Park between December 15-31st.
Much like the fans, the cancellation of the Winter Classic didn’t catch many Red Wings players by surprise…
“It sucks,” Red Wings forward Danny Cleary said. “I’m almost in disbelief, really. Obviously disappointed.
“I think everybody was looking forward to the Winter Classic. It was going to be such a great event, not only for downtown Detroit with all the events, but in Ann Arbor, setting a record attendance.
“That stings a little bit.”
“It’s surprising people actually have the courage to cancel something like that when so much relies upon it and so many people are looking forward to it,” Detroit defenseman Ian White said. “I think to this point we’ve already had some damage that won’t be able to be undone to our sport. They just continue to pile it on.
“It actually embarrasses me as a player. You go out in public, people view us differently from this. The NHL just continues along this path.”
Despite the 2013 cancellation, the NHL still plans on having the 2014 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor between the same two original six teams. It’s not yet known if the events at Comerica Park will still proceed the event.
Below, is the official press release from the Red Wings which includes information on ticket refunds.
The National Hockey League today announced the cancellation of the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and 2012 SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival. The NHL has confirmed that the next Winter Classic will be played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor featuring the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs and will include the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park in Detroit.
The Red Wings will communicate with each of their original ticket purchasers via email by Tuesday, November 6 and provide the option of a.) receiving a full refund on tickets and associated fees or b.) maintaining their tickets for future Winter Classic and Winter Festival events.
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.
While all of this year’s Winter Festival events at Comerica Park have been canceled, individual games for the 48th Annual Great Lakes Invitational, the American Hockey League matchup between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies and the Ontario Hockey League double-header originally slated for Comerica Park have been rescheduled and are on sale as follows:
The 48th Annual Great Lakes Invitational featuring the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University and Western Michigan University will be played at Joe Louis Arena on December 29 and 30. Tickets are currently available at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster outlets (800-745-3000) and online at OlympiaEntertainment.com.
The American Hockey League contest between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies will be played at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on December 29 at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information, visit GriffinsHockey.com or call the Griffins at (616) 774-4585.
The Ontario Hockey League double-header becomes two single games at the home teams’ venues on December 29. The London Knights will travel to the Plymouth Whalers at 7:00 p.m. and the Windsor Spitfires will play at the Saginaw Spirit at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information, contact the Whalers at 734-453-8400 or PlymouthWhalers.com and the Spirit at 989-497-7747 or SaginawSpirit.com.
All high school teams scheduled to play at Comerica Park are being contacted in effort to reschedule their games at Joe Louis Arena.
h/t: Mlive.com, Detroit Red Wings PR