The Winter Classic has been one of the best additions to the NHL in recent years, but it won't be this season.
The NHL's lockout has already ruined the 2013 season for most. Losing the Winter Classic hits a different note though because it's new and unique. Hockey isn't expected to be played outdoors, aside from backyard ponds, but this gives the game a childlike feel to it.
This year's game featured two of the game's original six teams as well. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings could have battled it out in Michigan Stadium while countless old-school fans cheered them on. Instead, these fans are missing out.
It's not like the Winter Classic's popularity will be damaged overall. The NHL can come back in 2014 and the game will still have the same appeal, but it makes the NHL look worse.
Teams play multiple games against one another; only two play in the Winter Classic though. That's part of the appeal.
The NHL has become very good at dropping the ball, but cancelling the 2004-05 season was different. That was a standard year. There wasn't anything like the Winter Classic at that point to attract fans.
That didn't make things feel any better at the time, but it makes a difference now.
This year's Winter Classic matchup would have made NHL fans ecstatic. Now that's it cancelled though, it should make them more bitter about the league's current situation.
Every NHL fan must be upset that teams aren't on the ice right now, but this time of year should hurt a little more. Rather than settling down on the couch and watching the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, hockey fans just have to wonder how exciting the game would have been.
Losing the entire NHL season, if it comes to that, will be a tragedy, but failing to play the Winter Classic is the biggest travesty from this entire ordeal.