Three more teams–Cincinnati Cyclones, Idaho Steelheads and Kalamazoo Wings–have opted out of the 2020-2021 ECHL season, with the Toledo Walleye and Fort Wayne Komets pushing season openers to February.
The decision to suspend operations falls under the league’s policy for COVID-19. All teams are set to return in the 2021-22 ECHL season.
“This decision for our clubs was immensely difficult amidst the everchanging landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to return to play throughout our various jurisdictions,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “We look forward to returning fans and ECHL hockey in these great markets as they shift their focus to the 2021-22 season.”
“Since March, the Walleye have worked tirelessly with the Lucas County Health Department and the State of Ohio to get hockey back to the Huntington Center,” said Neil Neukam, Walleye Executive Vice President & General Manager, via press statement. “As we continue to do so, we’re appreciative of the ECHL Board of Governors and the PHPA to allow for additional time to plan and execute a 2020-21 season for the Walleye and our fans in a safe and responsible manner.”
Last month the six teams in the ECHL North Division—Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals and Worcester Railers–announced they are suspending play for the 2020-2021 season.
Under the terms of the ECHL/PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, all Players who have signed ECHL contracts with Cincinnati, Idaho and Kalamazoo are free agents for the 2020-21 season immediately.