Winter Classic 2013: Canceling Premier Event Will Cost NHL Beyond Ticket Sales

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2012

The Winter Classic appears to be all but done before it began.
The Winter Classic appears to be all but done before it began.Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

It's time to pack up your hopes about hockey this year. 

According to a report by Katie Strang of, the NHL plans to cancel the Winter Classic on Thursday. 

The decision to cancel one of the league's most exciting and profitable events will cost the NHL dearly. 

And we're not just talking about money here. 

This year's matchup was set to take place in Ann Arbor, Mich. on New Year's Day and would have featured the Winter Classic's first Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, taking on the Detroit Red Wings. 

However, it looks like Michigan Stadium and the hundreds of thousands of fans looking for some New Year's festivities will be out of luck thanks to the NHL lockout. 

While fans will surely find a way to keep themselves entertained during the holiday season, the league won't be so lucky. 

The expected cancellation will cost the league millions of dollars in sponsorships for the event, according to Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press

Besides the loss of revenue from ticket sales, merchandise and refreshments, the social ramifications might be the hardest hit the NHL takes this season. 

While the NFL and NBA managed to negotiate lockouts of their own during the past year, the NHL is mired in a nasty one that has already cost the league 326 regular-season games. 

For a sport that continually ranks behind football, baseball and even college athletics in popularity (via Sports Business Daily), canceling a premier event like the Winter Classic could spell trouble for the league's long-term success. 

The Winter Classic isn't just a game—it's an experience. 

Watching an outdoor hockey game between two legitimate NHL teams from a seat inside of one of college football's most famous stadiums isn't something that you can just put a price on. 

Beyond the game, this year's event was supposed to feature alumni, junior, college and American Hockey League games at Comerica Park in Detroit, according to Johnston's report. 

Gary Bettman and everyone involved just deprived a whole generation of kids of an unforgettable experience.

America's youth has become addicted to the fast-paced, high-intensity action of the NBA and NFL, and foregoing the Winter Classic, and the season as a whole, could cost the NHL an entire market of new fans. 

It's going to take more than just a prepared apology statement and a refund for the NHL to fix this entire mess. 

Whatever money they lost out on may be recuperated in the future, but this debacle can't be measured in just dollars and cents when such a rare, intangible experience is at stake.