SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ECHL and SPHL cancelled their 2019-20 campaigns on March 14 and 15, respectively.
Nearly two months later, the highest level of minor league hockey in North America finally followed suit.
After an AHL Board of Governors Meeting on Friday to determine the league’s fate for the suspended 2019-20 regular season, the league decided to sit quiet over the weekend so that teams can field questions from fans who purchased tickets and sponsors alike during normal business hours on Monday.
While the NHL has been in talks of resuming play in July — entertaining the idea of playing games at four set stadiums for each division and even a 24-team playoff format — the American Hockey League does not have the same leeway. Even though the AHL sits atop the North American hockey farm system, it (like the ECHL & SPHL lower on the tree) are a gate-driven league. The fact that the NHL could have games with no fans in the stands simply isn’t feasible for the AHL; major junior leagues like the CHL, USHL, and NAHL find themselves in similar situations.
Now, with all three of the AAA, AA, and A levels of minor league hockey cancelled, fans of the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL can now sigh and look forward to the 2020-21 season in hopes that the COVID-19 crisis will be on the downward slope.
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