It’s official. The 2019-20 AHL regular season and 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs have been canceled.
In a statement released Monday morning, the league announced its decision to end the season and not move on with the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs. Following a Board of Governors meeting held on Friday, the league gave teams time over the weekend to handle business with team sponsors and staff prior to the official announcement being made.
From the AHL:
After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions.
The League’s operational focus has turned toward 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 through the challenges faced over the past two months.
The AHL continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21.
The cancellation of the remainder of the season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs marks the first time in the league’s history that a Calder Cup winner will not be decided and the Calder Cup will not be handed out. Every season since the 1937 postseason. the Calder Cup has been handed to the league champion, an 83-season run that today comes to an end.
Additionally, the AHL standings will be sorted by points percentage and statistics as of March 12, 2020, are considered final and official, and will serve as the basis for determining league awards for the 2019-20 season.
For the Rockford IceHogs, a team on the cusp of a postseason berth, the cancellation of the season is a bitter end to 2019-20. With a 29-30-4 record through 63 games, the IceHogs sat in a tie for fourth place with the Chicago Wolves with 62 points. The Wolves having the advantage based on points percentage means Rockford finishes its season in fifth place in the AHL Central Division.
Tyler Sikura ends the year as the team’s leading scorer (34 points). Brandon Hagel led all rookies in scoring (31 points). Lucas Carlsson led all defensemen in scoring (26 points) for the second-straight season. Collin Delia was the team-leading goaltender in games (32), wins (16), save percentage (.912), and goals against average (2.66).
With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of the 2019-20 NHL season still being figured out, the AHL could not hold out any longer to make their announcement to end the season. Every day that passed was more money lost for the league and the teams, which already is not a league built to generate the type of revenue seen by the major North American professional leagues.
League President and CEO Dave Andrews spoke on SIRIUSXM Radio two weeks ago and gave a soft-layout for what the future could hold for the AHL, citing that the league does not generate a lot of money from TV contract, but instead is a gate-driven league. Teams make the majority of their money off ticket sales and with the future of sports, at least in the next year or two, looking like they will have to operate behind closed doors with no fans, the league wouldn’t be able operate successfully.
Following the cancellation of the 2019-20 season and 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs, Andrews wrote a letter addressing the league’s decision:
Beyond the 2019-20 season and 2020 Calder Cup playoffs is still a mystery. Andrews said that the league is trying to plan for every scenario, “Let’s all hope there is some opportunity to do that [return] in October, but we also have to look at operating models beginning in November, December, and January.” Andrews continued with optimism, “I’m pretty confident that we are going to play with some critical mass of teams and with everybody as we head toward December. But again, we’ll be ready to play in October, if we can.”
Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay well, and we will see you next AHL season.