Details of the next NHL season are still unsettled overall, but Thursday the league postponed the Jan. 1 Winter Classic and the All-Star Game.
No new dates were announced.
The league said it’s still targeting a Jan. 1 as a start date for the season.
The Winter Classic was to have the Wild playing the Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis. The All-Star weekend was to be Jan. 29-30 in Sunrise.
Months ago, there was an idea that the Winter Classic would be a fitting kickoff event for the season. It’s since become less likely that the league would be able to have a full stadium of fans Jan. 1. The event comes at a high cost to put on without fans.
“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,” NHL senior executive vice president and chief content officer Steve Mayer said in a statement. “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.”
The Toronto Star reported that the league is considering a different outdoor setting for a kickoff event: Lake Louise in Alberta. That would still come with a price tag but would be more fitting for a fanless event.
The NHL has a model to play 82 games starting Jan. 1, finishing the playoffs before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to start July 24. NBC has the broadcast rights to both events, so they can’t overlap. The longer it takes to start the season, the more likely the season will not only be condensed but shortened.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Contact Diana C. Nearhos at email@example.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.
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