In a move that felt inevitable with coronavirus pandemic still rapidly spreading, the NHL announced on Thursday, Oct. 22, it has postponed the 2021 Winter Classic between the Wild and St. Louis Blues at Target Field. It was scheduled for Jan. 1.
The NHL plans to return to the Twin Cities for an outdoor game in the near future, according to a press release, with the logical choice being the 2022 Winter Classic. None of that is set in stone, however, and more details will follow at a later date.
Target Field was supposed to hold close to 40,000 people for the event, a number that obviously doesn’t fall in line with the current restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
“Bummed there won’t be Wild hockey at Target Field on New Year’s Day,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said on Twitter. “Still optimistic the Winter Classic will be coming to Twins Territory soon.”
It’s a tough blow for the Wild considering they have been yearning to host the Winter Classic since its inception more than a decade ago.
In that span, the Chicago Blackhawks have participated a league-high four times, the Boston Bruins have participated three times, and the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers each have participated twice.
The drought finally ended when the league announced this year that Wild will host the annual spectacle.
“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,” Matt Majka president said in a statement. “We look forward to that day.”
The NHL also postponed the 2021 All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fla.
“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 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.”