Kraft Hockeyville 2013 cancelled due to NHL lockout
Kraft Canada has cancelled its 2013 Hockeyville program due to the ongoing NHL lockout, the organization announced Tuesday.
The Kraft Hockeyville 2012 winner announced last March was Stirling-Rawdon, Ont. The town received $100,000 in arena upgrade money from Kraft Canada and $10,000 in food bank donations.
Stirling-Rawdon was supposed to host a NHL pre-season game this fall between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, but the lockout wiped out the event.
There still was a celebration in late September, with the Stanley Cup on display for photographs.
The town will get a chance to host a pre-season game once the NHL and its players come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Kraft Canada is investing in a new program called Kraft Hockey Goes On, which will award $1 million to Hockey Canada-affiliated minor hockey associations across the country.
Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen's University, said the decision was the latest sign that the NHL and its brand are in trouble.
"What I'm hearing in both the media and the person on the street is a growing resentment about it. It is OK if fans are resentful in a sense because that means they are emotionally attached, but now it is getting to the point of who cares," Wong said of lockout.
"And when it gets to who cares, that's when a brand has big trouble because it says now you've lost your relevance."
The NHL has already cancelled regular season games through Nov. 30 as well as its Winter Classic outdoor game that was planned for New Years Day in Michigan.
In 2005, the league waited until Feb. 16 before it called off the entire season.
The Kraft cancellation follows comments by Molson Coors chief executive Peter Swinburn, who said earlier this month that once the lockout ends the brewer — a league sponsor — will seek financial compensation from the NHL.
"There will be some redress for us as a result of this. I can't quantify that and I don't know because I don't know the scale of how long the lockout is going to last," he said at the time.
With files from The Canadian Press