PENSACOLA, Fla. – The world according to COVID-19 has been an interesting one for everyone. Recently, we looked at things from the perspective of the front office and general business operations. There’s no doubt that head coach Rod Aldoff has seen his fair share of speed bumps as he works to build his 2020-21 roster. The Sin Bin caught up with Aldoff by phone as he, like a lot of people, is currently working from his home in Wisconsin.
The pandemic has changed some things for the hockey operations side of the Ice Flyers organization, but Aldoff says some things are still the same, specifically the way he recruits players.
“We’re just moving forward with everything and just trying to be prepared for when we start, whenever we start,” Aldoff said. “It doesn’t change anything dramatically. Everybody is just waiting to see when we start but as far as my job goes, I’m just recruiting as normal.”
Aldoff also said he has not, as of yet, seen a significant swing in the player pool. He said he hasn’t really encountered any of the more experienced players deciding to hang up the skates in favor of a more stable paycheck.
“I think everybody that wanted to play this year, they’re going play,” said Aldoff.
At this point, Aldoff is uncertain whether the Ice Flyers will be able to have a free agent camp this season. Aldoff and Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris will keep looking into it periodically as the season nears but a lot depends on what will happen in the continued course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aldoff also said he’s not even sure if he’ll be making his usual trips to ECHL training camps prior to the Ice Flyers training camp even if the two leagues’ schedules lined up enough to allow for it.
“Everything’s up in the air with hockey in general, and sports in general, and hopefully things will get better as we go forward and it makes everyone’s life a little easier. But everything is just kind of a wait and see but when the league decides to start play or make a schedule, hopefully, we will be able to make those decisions going forward about how we’re going to do things.”
Aldoff and Harris both said that the length of the 2020-21 Southern Professional Hockey League season is still to be determined but, as mentioned previously, Harris stated the league is still looking to be able to play a full 56-game schedule in the condensed time frame.
Harris also touched on the mandatory two-week quarantines imposed by many states around the county as something the league has its eye on.
“Mandatory quarantines are on the list of situations we’re monitoring. We would have to decide as a board of directors for the league at some point to push back should travel restrictions tighten between states.”
Harris said if there is another delay to the start of the season, the Ice Flyers will just have to play it by ear.
“If there is another delay, we will continue to adjust. It’s a very fluid situation we’re all in right now, so we need to keep being flexible and diligent in our work and preparation.”
Whenever the season does get underway, Harris is excited about the product that will be taking the ice inside the Pensacola Bay Center. The Ice Flyers have already announced the signings of forwards Brett D’Andrea and Garrett Milan. Both were in the top four scorers for the Ice Flyers last season. Milan led the team with 40 points in 38 games while D’Andrea had 26 points in 46 games.
At this point in a normal off-season, the team would usually have way more than two signings by early September, but Harris says that’s part of the team’s marketing strategy.
“Recruiting is going strong and we have some really good players ready to come to Pensacola. We are planning on announcing more players soon. This is another part of changing timelines. We’re spreading announcements out, but they will become more frequent in the near future.”
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