A very unusual 2020-21 AHL season is on target to begin February 5
The puck will drop for the AHL’s 85th season beginning in February 2021. The upcoming season is still a work in progress as details are not fully ironed out.
AHL on track for February 5
“The American Hockey League Board of Governors has approved the structural framework for an AHL season that will begin on February 5, 2021. Details are still being worked out, but this step allows our teams and their National Hockey League partners to better determine their plans for the coming season. We look forward to dropping the puck on Feb. 5.”AHL President and CEO Scott Howson
The AHL established January 4th as the opt-out date for the upcoming season. Currently the clubs will decide if they want to participate in the shortened season. The decision will based on finances and the arrangements between AHL-NHL affiliates.
Teams that are owned by their NHL affiliate (19) will likely play and absorb the financial loses. There is a balance between finances and player development. The questions becomes how much money are these teams willing to lose?
AHL Teams can opt-out
Teams that are independently owned (13) will have to work with their NHL club to determine the next course of action. There is no guarantee that every team will play. The league as a whole is dependent on gate driven revenue which will not exist in the 2021 season.
“We don’t anticipate revenue coming in. We’re going in anticipating we’re not going to have any revenue. It will be how much we’re prepared to lose, but there is a limit for everybody.”
“I don’t care if we win or lose [this season]. It’s about getting players to play and improving toward 2021-22.”Howard Dolgon, Syracuse Crunch President, CEO
A very unusual season
Details on the upcoming season continues to trickle out. The number of games teams will play is varied by club. The AHL has set a minimum of games to be played at 24. However, teams will have the opportunity to play as many as they want. Standings would be based on points percentage considering the uneven amount of games.
The playoff format is up in the air as well. That is another aspect to be determined at a later date. The main focus is player development, similar to a scrimmage setting.
“No certainty that there will be an AHL postseason to start with. Could be just divisional playoffs. Long trips for playoff series would seem to be out of the question.
Dolgon said right now, Crunch and TB have no interest in playing in AHL postseason”Syracuse Hockey
The AHL will return to normal in Fall 2021 for a full regular season with playoffs. This upcoming season will be a modified brief season to get games in for prospects.