AHL Officially Cancels Rest Of Season, Including Calder Cup
The AHL this morning officially announced the cancellation of the '19-20 season following a BOG call this past Friday afternoon. The league suspended play on March 12. AHL CEO David Andrews in a statement said, "After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions. The League’s operational focus has turned toward actively preparing for the 2020-21 season.” Eighteen of the 31 active AHL teams are NHL-owned, while two are NBA team-owned. Some clubs, like the Syracuse Crunch, Utica Comets and Binghamton Devils, have already secured federal PPP funding to continue paying staffers as well as other expenses (Mark J. Burns, THE DAILY). The AP's Stephen Whyno notes the Calder Cup "will not be handed out for the first time since 1936." The league "hopes to return next season," though that "remains uncertain, with the possibility of no fans allowed in arenas" (AP, 5/11).
NO REALISTIC ROAD TO A RETURN: In Syracuse, Lindsay Kramer notes while NHL teams "examine a variety of scenarios that might allow a resumption of play this summer, that option was not available" to the AHL. Building availability "would be impossible to work out, even if facilities were cleared to open." Additionally, since the AHL’s revenue is "gate-driven," playing games without any fans would not be "economically feasible." The league now "waits to react to the NHL’s resumption plans to determine the structure of its own 2020-21 season." AHL training camps typically open in late September with the season starting in early October, but if the NHL "decides to play late into the summer, that would almost certainly push back the start of its next season by several weeks." The AHL would then have to make decisions "whether it will still play the standard 76-game regular season and keep the same length of playoff rounds next spring" (Syracuse POST-STANDARD, 5/11).