The NHL has decided to cancel the Winter Classic, which was slated to feature the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan's football stadium in Ann Arbor on Jan. 1, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun on Friday.
In the six weeks since the lockout began, the work stoppage has caused the cancellation of hundreds of regular-season games, significant revenue loss and what may be irreversible damage to the game's reputation.
Friday, however, was the darkest day yet.
A source familiar with the league's plan had told LeBrun the decision to cancel the game was green-lighted after an internal meeting at NHL offices in New York Friday morning.
The annual outdoor game is the latest, and by far the most significant, of the lockout's casualties.
The game is not only a huge money-maker for the league, but also a signature event for the game, and its cancellation does not bode well for what is to come.
The decision to cancel the game was based on a number of factors and logistics was a concern.
The league was tasked with a unique challenge this year in building two rinks -- one at "The Big House" and one at Comerica Park -- and has a contract with the former that requires the NHL to pay for any expenses occurred by the University if the event was canceled later than Nov. 2. The NHL also owed $250,000 of the $3 million rental fee on Nov. 2.
This is not believed to be the biggest deal-breaker, however.
The league did not want to host such an event without the usual bells-and-whistles -- HBO's "24/7"show documenting the event would've been virtually impossible to pull off -- and it did not want the pageantry of the event tainted by the work stoppage.
The Winter Classic is touted by the NHL as a celebration of the game, a tough message to send after a league-imposed lockout has wiped out almost the first two months of the season.
The cancellation of the game does not spell the demise of the entire season altogether, however.
Although NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that an entire 82-game season is no longer possible, the two sides can still broker a deal to salvage a shortened season.
A source confirmed to LeBrun that NHLPA special council Steve Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner have tentatively agreed to resume bargaining, however, no specifics about format, location and day have been agreed upon. The two sides have not traded proposals or met face-to-face for a formal bargaining session in over two weeks.
What will come of that conversation remains to be seen, however.