The ECHL announced on Saturday night that they have canceled the rest of the 2019-20 season because of the coronavirus, becoming the first professional hockey league in North America to do so.
ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin released the following statement:
The decision by the ECHL to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 Season does not come lightly, as this is an emotional time for our Players, Coaches, Member Teams, Fans, and Staff. At this point in the season, there has been the immense dedication and countless hours committed to moving towards what is traditionally the most exciting part of the hockey year.
With that said, however, as each passing day raises additional concerns for the safety of those in the ECHL community and as we take precautionary measures in conjunction with our local authorities across the continent to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it has become apparent that this is the prudent decision. Our game and our product are based on our Fans and their ability to cheer on their favorite ECHL team and Players at one of our many facilities around the continent. Without that social environment and game atmosphere, the ECHL simply isn’t the same.
On behalf of the ECHL and our Board of Governors, we appreciate the Professional Hockey Players’ Association for their assistance during this unprecedented time and working as partners in hockey to reach this decision for the best interest of the ECHL and its Players. This decision allows our Players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists.
While we are hopeful that this period ceases and an opportunity to return to normalcy for the hockey calendar presents itself, in the interim, we ask all Fans, Players, Coaches, Officials, and Staff to continue to abide by the measures put in place by their local authorities and follow precautionary protocols for their safety, as we will begin preparations for the 2020-21 ECHL Hockey Season.
— ECHL (@ECHL) March 15, 2020
The NHL board of governors is continuing to meet to discuss the future of the season on a day-to-day basis. Commissioner Gary Bettman is optimistic that the league will crown a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion when the season is all said and done.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported on Saturday night that the NHL and AHL will not necessarily return at the same time if they do at all this season. He said that there are “too many different variables, including travel and revenue.”
In addition to @FriedgeHNIC report on ECHL cancelling its season, word around the American Hockey League is that a potential return won’t mirror what happens with the NHL. Too many different variables, including travel and revenue. They’re facing a big challenge.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 15, 2020
The NHL instructed teams to make sure to pay all their AHL players through the season suspension, which is the same as instructed yesterday in terms of paying NHL players.
Notable item from today’s NHL call with GMs: the league instructed teams to make sure to pay all their AHL players through the season suspension. Same as instructed yesterday in terms of paying NHL players.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 14, 2020
By Harrison Brown