By Luke Vermeer
The NHL’s annual Winter Classic was officially cancelled Friday and moved to the 2013-2014 NHL season.
The cancellation of the Detroit Red Wings-Toronto Maple Leafs outdoor match at the University of Michigan before over 100,000 spectators was expected as the event would take weeks of preparation.
It comes as another in a string of bad news connected to the stalled NHL labour negotiations according to Yahoo Sports.
Craig Custance, senior NHL writer for ESPN magazine, said that the cancellation is a black mark on the negotiations.
““It’s such a key event for hockey and promoting the game and growing the game and for it to be cancelled is just a sign of how bad things have gotten as far as the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) discussions go,” Custance told Humber News.
“It’s a black eye for the sport, that’s the premier event each season during the regular season.”
Despite the cancellation, Greg Wyshynski, editor for Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy hockey blog, said it could end up being a positive.
“I almost saw it as a bat-signal being sent up to the players around the world, saying, ‘Hey look, this is a serious situation, we just killed our cash cow and now’s the time to really get down and save the season,” said Wyshynski.
The news on the labour front was not all bad this weekend as the NHL took a major step towards a new deal, according to TSN
Late Friday the owners proposed the Make Whole amendment which would see the league protect player salaries from reduction due to their share of hockey related revenues dropping from 57 per cent to 50 per cent.
In addition to the proposal, NHL Players Association general counsel, Steve Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly met late Saturday, early Sunday for general labour talks.
“We had a series of meetings yesterday (Saturday) and exchanged views on the most important issues separating us,” Daly said in an email to TSN.
Wyshynski expects that there will be a season despite the somber mood surrounding the negotiation.
“We’re not talking about a reshaping of the financial system like we were in ’04-05 where it was luxury tax versus lockout, these big philosophical questions about the future of the game. It’s more about just who gets what money now.”
Fehr and Daly will continue with their meetings Monday with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and then NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr joining them Tuesday for more formal negotiations in New York.