This just in, the AHL has announced that its (anticipated) 2020-21 season start date will be December 4th, 2020.
Check it out:
This is obviously great news as there was a real fear that the AHL would be forced to shutter their entire operation for a season or longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Frankly, it'll be difficult to see how the league will be profitable if it's not allowed to sell tickets to the general public, but I'll assume that the AHL has a plan in place for each possible scenario.
The AHL, of course, was forced to pause and then cancel its 2019-20 season earlier this Spring when concerns over the spread of COVID-19 was rocking the entire sporting world. It's unclear how exactly today's announcement will affect the AHL's relationship with the NHL, as the NHL has yet to commit for a date for the 2020-21 season. The early speculation is that NHLers likely won't hit the ice for the 2020-21 campaign until after Christmas 2020, with most media analysts predicting a January 1st, 2021 league-wide opening.
Read below for the full press release announcement of today's news courtesy of the AHL's official website:
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.