The possibility of the NHL starting its next season outdoors with its New Year’s Day Winter Classic was dashed on Oct. 22.
The NHL announced both the 2021 NHL Winter Classic and All-Star game wouldn’t take place as scheduled, although the league said in a statement that it still hopes to start next season as planned “on or around” Jan. 1.
That start date was announced by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association on Oct. 6.
“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,” Steve Mayer, the NHL’s senior executive vice president and chief content officer, said in a statement.
“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,” Mayer added.
The Winter Classic — a contest that would have featured the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues — was to be held at Target Field, the Minnesota Twins’ home ballpark. The 2021 NHL All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center, the home arena for the Florida Panthers, was originally scheduled for Jan. 29-30.
Mayer said the league is “considering several new and creative events that will allow our fans to engage with our games and teams during this upcoming season.”
The NHL’s 2019-20 season was interrupted by the coronavirus and resumed in two bubble sites, one in Edmonton and the other in Toronto.
The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched their second Stanley Cup title in six games over the Dallas Stars in Edmonton on Sept. 28.