Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

American Hockey League Delays Start of 2020-21 Season

We aren’t starting on time.

On Thursday, the AHL announced that out of its Board of Governors call that they have delayed the start of the 2020-21 season to December 4, 2020.

Here is the whole announcement:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO Scott Howson has announced a revised start date for the 2020-21 AHL season, as approved by the league’s Board of Governors during its 2020 Annual Meeting held today via conference call.

At the recommendation of the AHL’s Return to Play Task Force, the Board of Governors has approved moving the anticipated start of the 2020-21 regular season to December 4, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. The AHL will continue to work with its member clubs to monitor developments and local guidelines in all 31 league cities.

Further details regarding the 2020-21 American Hockey League schedule are still to be determined.

In operation since 1936, the AHL serves as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.

Coal Street responded with it’s own announcement:

Which was basically the same thing that the AHL had to say in their initial announcement.

You are probably looking at a shortened season, where you will probably see regional opponents only, and a lot of them, over the course of a season of probably anywhere from 40-50 games. That means Hershey, Lehigh Valley more than the 12 times we have played them in the past. Probably no Western Conference teams this season and definitely no Canadian teams like Belleville or Toronto.

What I hope happens, if there is any hope of having a season, is what you are seeing with the NHL, NBA and MLS. Teams in a bubble and playing inside of that bubble. Could Bridgeport, Hartford, Springfield and Providence all set up shop in Wilkes-Barre for example and play games against each other and the Bears, Penguins and Phantoms? It’s a possibility and it may not be that big of a logistical nightmare as you would think. If an AHL arena is the main source of income for a building (in most markets) then freeing up a building to play a game every day there when there is nothing else going on is a potential possibility.

Hopefully.

I still think we are months away from having fans in the building and even when we get there, how many said fans can you have in the building and how many of those fans would feel safe venturing into a building with 3000 other strangers? If the AHL is a gate driven league, playing games behind closed doors isn’t feasible throughout every market. Setting up in five or six regional markets in front of no one or a limited amount could be a possibility.

So we continue to wait, and wear our masks.

There is other news out there, Wilkes-Barre signed a bunch of guys recently. Nick Schilkey and Zach Nastasiuk are Mike Velucci guys and won a Calder Cup with him in Charlotte last season and are good additions….Matt Abt signed with the Colorado Eagles….the Pens brought back Jon Lizotte and Chase Berger for next season.

I haven’t forgotten about the blog and it isn’t going anywhere. There just hasn’t been any news to report worth filling out a post on. When the news comes, like today, I’ll have stuff for it. Stay tuned, I guess.

More importantly, stay safe.

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