The NHL is pushing back two big events next year. This week, the league announced the postponement of the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Winter Classic was scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Florida Panthers were set to host All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, scheduled for Jan. 29-30.
"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," NHL Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer 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. 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 Minnesota Wild were set to face the St. Louis Blues in the Winter Classic. This event began in 2008 and normally takes place in an outdoor football or baseball stadium. Earlier this year, the Winter Classic took place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas. Dallas Stars took on the Nashville Predators and won 4-2 in front of over 85,000 people.
The postponement of the Winter Classic and the All-Star game also has to do with the 2019-2020 season being pushed back due to the pandemic. The season was suspended on March 12 and returned on Aug. 1 in two separate bubbles - Toronto's Scotiabank Arena and Edmonton's Rogers Place. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, beating the Dallas Stars in six games.
The start of the NHL 2020-21 season is set for Jan. 1, and the league is hoping to play an 82-game season. "Our hope is to have a full season, full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which if not most of which are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press conference.