NEW YORK — The NHL announced the postponement of the 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend “due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus,” the league announced in a statement on Thursday.
The Winter Classic, scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis, was supposed to pit the Minnesota Wild facing the St. Lous Blues, the league said in its statement. The All-Star Weekend, scheduled for Jan. 29-30 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, has been scrapped for now.
“The league intends to return to Minnesota and Florida for these signature events in the near future,” the NHL said.
The game in Minnesota was going to be the NHL’s 31st outdoor game and second for the Wild, who hosted a Stadium Series against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2016, ESPN reported. The Panthers were preparing to host their second All-Star Weekend and first since the 2002-03 season.
“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 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.”
NHL officials said they are still planning to begin the 2020-21 season on or around Jan. 1, ESPN reported. Team general managers are scheduled to meet Friday to iron out details, including when training camps will be allowed to open.
“The NHL has given us every indication that the Winter Classic is coming to the State of Hockey and Target Field when it is safe to do so and our fans can fully embrace it," Wild President Matt Majka said. "We look forward to that day.”
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