TROY, Mich. -- The NHL sure knows how to ruin a good thing.
Since the previous lockout killed the entire 2004-05 season, the league had actually done some good things to move the game forward: changing the rules to allow skilled players more freedom; working to prevent and treat head injuries more effectively; and creating the Winter Classic, an annual outdoor celebration of hockey.
This year's Winter Classic was set to be a real extravaganza, centered around storied rivals Detroit and Toronto. The game itself was to played in front of 100,000-plus fans at Michigan Stadium.
Before the main attraction, a two-week Winter Festival was scheduled at Comerica Park in Detroit, involving all levels of hockey and two alumni games. The alumni games were nearly as captivating as the Winter Classic itself because Hall of Fame players from both the Red Wings and Maple Leafs were set to play.
The Associated Press reported Friday afternoon that the whole thing will be called off, with the off...