CALGARY, AB. – Official sources from the Calgary Flames and Stockton Heat have confirmed that the Heat will be playing their 2021 season in Calgary to accommodate Canadian travel restrictions. They will share the Flames’ home venue of the Scotiabank Saddledome and join the Canadian Division alongside the Manitoba Moose, Belleville Senators, Toronto Marlies, and Rocket de Laval.
Flames Assistant General Manager, Brad Pascal said in Thursday’s press release,
“We are appreciative of the City of Stockton and the San Joaquin County Public Health Office for the work they put forward in attempt to accommodate the team for this season. However, the complications of cross border travel in the face of COVID-19 has brought us to our decision today.”
The news came following the announcement that San Joaquin County was having difficulties approving Stockton’s play this season due to the status of COVID-19 in the area. On January 25th, the city and county officials confirmed the Heat would be unable to play in their regular venue. They confirmed the team’s intentions to play in Calgary and on January 28th, the official announcement from the team was announced.
An updated schedule has not yet been released, but the AHL says the reworked Canadian and Pacific Division schedules will be made public in the next few days. The original schedule did not have confirmed dates, time or opponents for any of the Canadian Division competitors. However, the trend of the rest of the league seems to follow would expect them to play between 30-40 games in the modified season.
The appeal of having the Heat in Calgary is not only because their NHL team is already there, but also because Canadian travel restrictions make it quite difficult to call-up players from across the border when they are expected to quarantine for up to two weeks. Outbreaks, injuries or family emergencies can be tough to cover with players that will not be available practically immediately. This relocation takes away that trouble. Alberta is not currently allowing fans to attend sporting events, but the current trend of local COVID-19 cases are causing the ease of public health measures and restrictions across the province.
The original schedule promised a Stockton Heat season opener on February 5th, but the next few days will reveal whether that is still the date to look forward to. Their anticipated opponent can be narrowed down to four teams at this time and is yet to be determined.
Paige Stewart covers the Stockton Heat for The Sin Bin. Interact with her at @SinBinHeat.
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