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NHL “postpones” the Winter Classic and All-Star weekend, but still targets January as the start for the season

The NHL released a statement earlier today addressing the fact that the 2021 season would not feature two of it’s signature events…

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.

So, if you are a fan of sponsor driven events that don’t really showcase what hockey is like, you’re out of luck. If you want to believe the NHL season could still happen as soon as January, and we might see training camps in December, well, the NHL isn’t quite ready to take that away from you, although with the desire to have some fans in the stands and with rising numbers of COVID cases in both Canada and the United States, January 1st is ambitious.

Of course it didn’t really seem likely the NHL was going to be able to pull off the Return to Play this summer, and they were able to do that, and do that relatively well. It might be a lot of uncertainty and then a whole lot of announcements about the season in a short turnaround. If the plan is to have at least a modest training camp situation and preseason for January 1st, it’s likely going to require a couple of weeks to complete, and it will likely require another couple of weeks of advance notice to recall players to their home cities and allow them to quarantine. If hockey happens in January, players will need to be in their cities by December, which means at worst the NHL will have to have it’s shit figured out by mid-November. That’s going to make for a busy month.

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