Some observers of the NHL Lockout have been waiting for a sign. Not a sign that the thing is finally over — no, that would be too easy. Instead, they're looking for signs that neither side will let up and that the labor negotiations will be ongoing for much longer than anyone wants them to be. Thursday, those people may very well get that sign. According to Katie Strang at ESPN.com, the NHL will be announcing on Thursday the cancelation of their annual Winter Classic game.
Doing it this soon saves all parties — the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Detroit Red Wings, the University of Michigan — the hassle of worrying whether or not the lockout will be resolved in time for the game. Who wants to get ready for something that probably won't happen? The downside to this, of course, is twofold. Firstly, it serves as a stark reminder that we won't be seeing our favorite teams suit up any time soon. For the NHL to cancel its flagship event is something that they won't take likely. The revenue that they get from just this one game is tremendous and it's also a chance for the league to be showcased on NBC and HBO 24/7.
The other downside is the fact that the city of Detroit, as well as the University of Michigan and the surrounding businesses, will stand to lose millions of dollars in income and tax revenue. Detroit and the U of M were counting on this game as well as the ancillary activities surrounding it. Sure, the game will probably just be pushed back a year, but that's not the point. The point is it should have happened this season, not in 2014.
Next to be canceled: the 2013 All Star Game in Columbus. No timetable for that, but since it's also in January, it wouldn't shocked me if the league killed two events with one lockout on Thursday afternoon.