This afternoon, the NHL released a joint statement with the NHLPA via their social media channels that the league has decided to postpone both the 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend.
For fans of the annual Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, then today’s announcement offered another dose of bad news in what has already been a very trying year in the world of sports. Gone will be the tradition of waking up late on January 1st after an evening spent with friends and family and watching a hockey game, which is certainly unfortunate but not at all surprising.
The National Hockey League today announced the postponements of the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.
The 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, featuring the Minnesota Wild facing the St. Louis Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., was originally scheduled for Jan. 1, 2021. The Florida Panthers were to host the 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., originally scheduled for Jan. 29-30, 2021. Both events have been postponed due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus. The League intends to return to both Minnesota and Florida for these signature events in the near future.
“Fan participation, both in arenas and stadiums as well as in the ancillary venues and events that we stage around the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, is integral to the success of our signature events,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer. “Because of the uncertainty as to when we will be able to welcome our fans back to our games, we felt that the prudent decision at this time was to postpone these celebrations until 2022 when our fans should be able to enjoy and celebrate these tentpole events in-person, as they were always intended. We are also considering several new and creative events that will allow our fans to engage with our games and teams during this upcoming season.”
Today’s announcement does not impact the joint declaration by the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association on Oct. 6 that we are targeting on or around Jan. 1 as the start date for the upcoming NHL season.
Unsurprisingly, having the NHL postpone both the Winter Classic and ASG a result of COVID-19 makes perfect since both of those events would be rendered meaningless without fans in the stands. On the bright side, the league included the quick note towards the end of their statement stating that the NHL and players remain committed to January 1st as the date for the start of the new season, but with the way that 2020 has gone so far, it will be interesting to wait and see how these next couple of months go in terms of actually coming up with a plan to get this done.