ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- The NHL has canceled the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.
The signature event between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, is the latest casualty from the labor dispute that has put the season on hold.
The NHL issued this statement shortly after 3pm Friday:
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.
There have been no labor negotiations since Oct. 18, when the players' union countered a league offer with three proposals. Those were all quickly rejected by the NHL. Since then, a league-imposed deadline to play a full season has passed, and the NHL cancelled all games through Nov. 30.
Detroit and Toronto, two of the league's Original Six teams, were scheduled to play outdoors on Jan. 1 at the stadium known as the Big House and the league was hoping the matchup would break the world record for hockey attendance. Michigan and Michigan State's hockey teams drew a record 104,173 fans in 2010.
Buffalo, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have all hosted the Winter Classic, but the crowd for a game at Michigan Stadium was expected to draw the league's largest crowd. The last Classic at Philadelphia's