The NHL announced in a press release on Thursday that the league will not be holding the Winter Classic or All-Star Weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“[W]e 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,” the NHL’s Steve Mayer said in a statement.
On New Year’s Day, the Winter Classic was supposed to pit the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues against each other at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota while this year’s All-Star Weekend was scheduled to be held Jan. 29-30, 2021 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
The NHL added in the release that the league is still targeting January 1, 2021, for the start of next season, but there are owners who are skeptical of that date, such as the Vegas Golden Knights’ Bill Foley.
“He’s talking about January 1st, I don’t know,” Foley said of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “Maybe February 1st. Maybe an abbreviated season and an accelerated season.”
Foley believes that the season will only be 48- or 56-games long and would conclude before the start of the 2021 Summer Olympics on Friday, July 23.
A third surge of the coronavirus is infecting the United States as temperatures turn colder across the country. According to the New York Times, the nation is averaging 59,000 new cases per day.
More from the NHL:
NEW YORK (Oct. 22, 2020) — 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.
Headline photo: NHL
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