‘Member when we used to average about seven posts a week in the month of December? Those were the days.
Anyway, the ‘will they, won’t they’ hot stove is heating up a bit in the hockey world, so here is where things stand when it comes to whether or not there will be a season.
First, in the AHL, still scheduled to start (tentatively) February 5.
This piece (paywalled) from The Athletic, outlines nicely what the plan is. If you don’t have a subscription, here are the key takeaways:
– They really, really, want to start on February 5. Take is as a make or break on a season, in my opinion. I don’t think there will be any more delays. If there are, you can fireball any hopes of a season
– “Unanswered questions” came up a lot in the piece.
– The AHL will have more of a definitive plan once the NHL lays out theirs. More on that in a minute…
– Expect training camps around January 25. There may not be any exhibition games.
– You are looking at about a 44-50 game schedule that goes to the end of May. They don’t want any more than three games a week.
– It is less and less likely that they will be played in front of any fans. I know in Luzerne County, home of the Penguins, has seen the highest COVID daily cases than any other county in the Northeast Region of Pennsylvania. There are even more cases in Lehigh County, home of the Phantoms. So even if you do have a season, you aren’t having it in front of any fans, safely.
– Rosters may look different. I didn’t think anything of this when I first read the piece Friday night, but new details emerged regarding the NHL later that evening. I’ll get to that in a minute.
– On the revenue side, there is “no realistic chance” to have fans in most of the AHL arenas. So where does the money come from? The sponsors like CCM, and convincing and getting people to buy into AHL TV. If people don’t want to do that (because, you know pandemic and lots of people out of work, so money spent elsewhere, like food) some teams may look to broadcast some games locally.
News later broke Friday night that the NHL and the players reached a tentative deal to play a 56 game season starting January 13, pending other details.
Some of those other details…
This can’t help AHL teams, having their star players on standby on an NHL roster. Yes, the AHL serves the NHL as its master, but boiling down to a watered down half hearted attempt of an AHL season in a can we or can’t we, one cough or sneeze away from postponing games like they are already doing in the ECHL, just two weeks into their season, can’t be good.
I appreciate the efforts, I really do, but I am less and less invested into a season as the time passes. You need to get people vaccinated, beat back the daily counts of this virus, get people working again then come back bigger and better in October vs. rolling out a forced attempt of a season in front of nobody with watered down rosters.
Please wear a mask and get the vaccine when it is available to you.