The East Coast Hockey League, the third tier of North American pro hockey, has officially cancelled it’s 2019-20 season due to continued concern of the COVID-19 outbreak. Further, the Kelly Cup will not be awarded as a result of the cancellation of the playoffs:
The league’s commissioner, Ryan Crelin, had this to say about it:
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 immense dedication and countless hours committed in 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.
In fairness, a pandemic is a great reason to cancel a season. Further, the league only had about 10 or 12 games left on their schedule. Where it sucks is that many of these players are not necessarily contracted to an NHL team nor are they in any sort of NHL system: They’re players for this league and this league only. The players who now don’t get to chase a championship, the arena staff that need the money generated, and the fans, who can’t see their local team until the 2020-2021 season begins. To say nothing of course about all the lost revenue that could keep certain teams in business, and any upcoming charity events cancelled.
The Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s affiliate, finishes the season with a 29-28-2 record, good enough for 4th in the Eastern Conference’s Southern Division. Their leader in goals and points for the season was Eric Niely, with 55 points in 59 games, their leader in goal was Sean Bonar, with an .899 SV% in 20 games, and Chris Nell, who he shared duties with, who had .886 SV%.
As Chris Johnston reported, what happens here unfortunately probably doesn’t affect the NHL all that much, but it could start to answer what happens next to the AHL.
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
Better luck next season, I guess.
Let’s see what happens next.