The ECHL announced on Wednesday afternoon that six more teams have opted-out of the upcoming 2020-21 ECHL season. The announcement brings the total number of teams that have opted out to eight.
The six teams that opted out this morning were the Adirondack Thunder, an affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, the Brampton Beast (Ottawa Senators), Maine Mariners (New York Rangers), Newfoundland Growlers (Toronto Maple Leafs), Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers) and Worcester Railers (New York Islanders).
These six teams join the Atlanta Gladiators (Boston Bruins) and Norfolk Admirals (independent) who had already opted out.
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In light of COVID-19’s continued impact across the Northeast region, the ECHL announced Wednesday that each of the six teams in the North Division – Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals and Worcester Railers – will be suspending play for the 2020-21 ECHL season under the League’s policy for COVID-19. All teams are set to return in the 2021-22 ECHL season.
“As we continue to navigate the continually changing regulations across North America, we recognize the difficult nature of this decision,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “While some of our teams’ host cities have allowed upcoming plans to include fans inside arenas, we unfortunately do not see the same path for these highly-affected areas in the Northeast.”
Under the terms of the ECHL/PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, all players from the Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals and Worcester Railers are free agents for the 2020-21 season immediately.
The Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays, are “all systems go” to start the season next month. Information regarding training camps and upcoming schedules can be found here.
ECHL affiliates will provide a very important role for NHL and AHL teams for the 2020-21 season, as teams will look to utilize affiliates to assist with conditioning of players prior to the start of the season, and provide conditioned players during the 2020-21 season.
With compressed scheduling and potential issues with the COVID-19 virus, organizational depth will be of paramount importance this season.
By Jon Sorensen