Still embroiled in a heated lockout with the NHL Players' Association, the National Hockey League has decided to cancel its 2013 All-Star game, as well as games through December 14, according to a league announcement on Friday. Per the announcement:
The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through December 14. The NHL also announced the cancellation of the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio. The cancellations are necessary due to the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.
Originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 27 in Columbus' Nationwide Arena, the game has seemed unlikely to happen for a while now. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch recently reported that the city was informed that the game would be canceled along with the next wave.
On the surface, canceling the game makes sense. Even if the league and players get together and come to an agreement, having such a condensed schedule would make the game extremely inconvenient.
Nevertheless, what this means is more symbolic than anything. The All-Star game is a yearly source of revenue for both the league and the host team, putting the NHL's best players on a national stage they seldom get to enjoy.
By cancelling the game, commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr have eliminated all marquee events from the season's calendar other than the playoffs. Already gone was the beloved Winter Classic, which has undoubtedly become the NHL's version of the NFL on Thanksgiving or the NBA on Christmas.
The All-Star Game's cancellation is especially disappointing to one seemingly ignored sect of the hockey community: the fans. Though not a favorite among players, the event has grown more intriguing in recent years due to a format change that saw two captains pick the teams in a fantasy draft.
This cancellation means that fans will have to wait until 2015 for the next All-Star Game, as the 2014 Winter Olympics will force the league to forego the event next season as well.
At this point, fans are simply hoping that we have a season, whether that includes an All-Star game or not.