Cancelled Winter Classic Leaves Local Hockey Fans Feeling 'Screwed'
Hockey fans are disappointed and angered by news that the Winter Classic game set for Jan. 1 in Ann Arbor is off, a victim of the NHL players lockout. Also scratched is Detroit's Hockeytown Winter Festival.
The outdoor game was projected to draw a record 114,000 fans to watch the Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium.
"I am so disappointed in the NHL and the players for this mess," Derek Lanning of Fraser tells USA Today. "I was so excited to go to the Winter Classic this year. I went to the game in Wrigley Field a few years ago and had a great time and was looking forward to the game in Ann Arbor," added the Wings season ticket holder. "Also, I was looking forward to the alumni games at Comerica Park. I am just so disappointed. I wish they would just settle this and get on with the season."
Amanda Smith told USA Today: "I purchased a half-season package for the Detroit Red Wings so I could purchase Winter Classic tickets. I also purchased tickets for the Hockeytown Winter Festival. . . . I'm never buying a ticket package for the NHL again, I don't even know if I will purchase single game tickets again. The NHL -- both the owners and players -- have extremely upset me and they are screwing the fans."
In Ann Arbor, U-M Athletic Director Dave Brandon also regretted "an unfortunate announcement," as Ted Kulfan reports in The Detroit News:
"We knew this was a possibility, but we stayed prepared in the event the labor dispute would get resolved. . . . We are glad they committed to bring the next game to the Big House [in 2014]."
Kulfan also spoke to Danny Cleary of the Wings, who said: "I'm in disbelief, obviously disappointed. Everybody was looking forward to the Winter Classic. . . . It stings a little bit."
The cancellation also affects former players. Games pitting the alumni teams for the Maple Leafs and Red Wings -- as well as games involving minor league, college, junior and youth teams -- were scheduled for the festival at Comerica Park.
"It gives me another year to practice," former Red Wings defenseman Larry Murphy said. "But it's disappointing. I was looking forward to playing in this (alumni) game. You just hope both sides are able to work out a solution."
Team owners locked out players Sept. 15 when the collective bargaining agreement expired.