The coronavirus pandemic took its first bite out of the 2020-21 NHL schedule with the league announcing Thursday that the 2021 Bridgestone Winter Classic has been canceled.
The game, featuring the Blues and the Minnesota Wild, was scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The league also announced that it has canceled the All-Star Weekend, scheduled for Jan. 29-30 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., the home of the Florida Panthers.
The league said it planned to return to Minnesota and Florida for both events in the "near future." It also said that Thursday's announcement does not impact its joint declaration earlier this month with the NHL Players Association that it is targeting on or around Jan. 1 for the start of the '20-21 season.
Which was interesting, because there has recently been speculation that the season might not start until February.
"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 and 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."
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