Theres no Winter Classic.
Theres no 247: Road to the Winter Classic series for HBO.
Theres also no getting back to the point of no return for both the NHL and the NHLPA as fans are going to be pissed off no matter what happens from this point forth.
According to reports from both ESPN and the AP, the Jan. 1 Winter Classic match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the University of Michigan campus has been cancelled for the 2013-14 season.
The NHL later confirmed the Winter Classic cancellation in a release shortly after 3 p.m.
Reports also indicate the Wings and Leafs game will be set to play in the same setting on Jan. 1 2014 when 110,000 plus fans are expected to be part of the biggest hockey crowd in NHL history. The logistics and money involved with setting up the New Years Day game appear to be the two biggest culprits involved in the league cancelling the signature game, but it also appears to be a preemptive move to keep the WC from becoming a leverage point in negotiations.
The popularity, soaring TV ratings and marketing prowess of the Winter Classic game make it the NHL golden goose, and the league wasnt willing to compromise it given the unsure status of CBA talks.
For the players the Winter Classic only represented one out of 82 games on the schedule, but it was also a giant money-maker for the NHL when the league counts out the hockey-related revenue eventually divvied up between the players and the league. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters on Thursday that negotiations will begin relatively near future with the NHLPA, and December games will be next on the chopping block.
While the Winter Classic cancellation means the NHL will end up losing the PR battle this season to an angry mob of fans, there are still believed to be a number of league scenarios for a shortened season. But one has to wonder at this point how quickly fans will return given the damage inflicted on the NHL product through 49 days of fruitless negotiations.