NEW YORK - The NHL and NHL Players' Association have suffered another big loss as a result of the lockout after Kraft pulled the plug on its popular Hockeyville program.
Kraft Canada officials confirmed Tuesday they've decided to cancel their sponsorship of the program after seven years because of the lockout and instead they'll donate $1 million to Hockey Canada for grassroots programs in the country.
"Absolutely, it disappointing," said Jack Hewitt, VP of marketing at Kraft Canada. "For seven years, and this was going to be our eighth year, we have built a program that consumers across this country absolutely loved and made a difference in the lives of people at the grassroots level.
"There was magic in the NHL (players) playing in local arenas. From that standpoint, it is really disappointing."
Hewitt said the company had to decide what to do with its marketing dollars and couldn't afford to wait any longer.
"We were starting to receive a lot of phone calls about communities wanting to Hockeyville for next year and it's a lot of work for these communities. We didn't want them to wait any longer and put a lot of work into something that was not going to be able to take place," said Hewitt. "We're thrilled that we're going to be able to contribute to (grassroots) programs in the country."