Axing Winter Classic a Needless Wound

Axing Winter Classic a Needless Wound

It is hard to put a dollar figure on what the NHL will lose should it cancel the annual Winter Classic in the next couple of days – but that may be the least of the league’s woes.


Two marketing and communications experts believe the worst aspect of the outdoor game being axed because of the NHL lockout is the long-term damage from ruptured relationships with sponsors and fans.


Since this is the NHL’s second lockout in seven years, and the loss of the entire season for a second time is now a possibility given the stalled labour negotiations, there is a danger people from both groups will turn away and never come back.


“One of the bigger problems the NHL has with its sponsors is a lot of people remember the last lockout [2004-05] and if they go through another year like that, people won’t be as forgiving,” said Bob Stellick, the head of Stellick Marketing Communications Inc., a Toronto firm which handles marketing, communications and media relations for major corporations and sports groups.

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