The NHL’s top minor league system, the American Hockey League, announced on Monday that it would cancel the remainder of the regular season and playoffs due to continuing concerns about COVID-19 in North America.
There are five California-based teams in the AHL, including the minor league Kings ‘minor club, the Ontario Reign and the Ducks’ affiliate, the San Diego Gulls.
“After a lengthy evaluation process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of the current circumstances,” the statement began. “The League’s operational focus is on actively preparing for the 2020-21 season.”
“We are very grateful to the National Hockey League and its teams for their support and leadership in navigating the challenges of the past two months,” the statement continued. “The AHL continues to be of paramount importance to the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we are all looking forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21.”
The AHL became the latest in a series of North American minor leagues and development programs to close the season. The U.S. Hockey League, Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Ontario Hockey League had all previously canceled the balance of their campaigns. This will be the first time that the AHL Calder Cup has not been awarded to the champion since starting in the 1936-37 season.
The NHL also suspended the game during the pandemic. The schedule has been paused since March 12. The Kings and Ducks both last played on March 11. The Stanley Cup has remained vacant twice. In 2004-05 an exclusion lost the league all season and playoffs. In 1919, the Stanley Cup final was canceled after five of the seven games due to an outbreak of influenza, which infected several players and killed one, the Montreal Canadiens Joe Hall.
While the NHL and NBA, whose seasons roughly match those of the AHL, have not made an official decision on whether to resume play, the above cancellations predict complications for the bigger leagues.
However, the Associated Press reported on Monday that the owners of Major League Baseball approved a proposal to be submitted to the club that would start a truncated campaign with no fan presence on or around July 4, with a shortened schedule, expanded playoff format. , larger selection of sizes and other wrinkles. The season would begin in late March, but no teams have entered the field in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The NHL has considered a series of proposals and scenarios that could allow them to end the season and become a champion, although no plans have been finalized or formally put on the table for the NHLPA.