NHL postpones 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Game

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As the NHL works on the 2020-21 season, the schedule will not include the Winter Classic or the All-Star Game.

The league announced on Thursday the postponements of both the 2021 Winter Classic and 2021 NHL All-Star Game. The annual Jan. 1 outdoor game was set to feature the Wild vs. Blues at Target Field in Minnesota. Florida was set to play host of the midseason gathering of top players. Uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced these events to be taken off the calendar for next 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,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President and 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. 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.”

When could these events return?

The league said both events could return to the respective cities “in the near future.” Minnesota could host the Winter Classic for New Year’s Day 2022, if possible. But a 2022 All-Star Game would be unlikely. Participation in the 2022 Beijing Olympics would mean no midseason classic until at least 2023.

No word yet on the status of February’s scheduled Stadium Series game hosted by the Hurricanes at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The 2020 Global Series games featuring the Bruins, Predators, Avalanche, and Blue Jackets in Helsinki and Prague were postponed in May.

The postponements will not affect the decision by the league and NHLPA to target Jan. 1, 2021 as the start date for the 2020-21 season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.