Three teams–Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield Thunderbirds–are opting out of the 2020-2021 AHL season, with four more temporarily relocating for the campaign.
All in all, 28 teams will complete in the 2020-2021 AHL season, with the league operating in five divisions this season. The three teams opting out of this season all plan on returning for the 2021-2022 AHL season.
Four teams have been granted provisional relocations for the 2020-21 season: the Binghamton Devils will play in Newark, NJ; the Ontario Reign will play in El Segundo, CA; the Providence Bruins will play in Marlborough, MA; and the San Diego Gulls will play in Irvine, CA.
The reason teams are opting out of the season: an unwillingness to play sans fans and absorb financial losses.
“We are disappointed that we will be unable to play hockey for the current AHL season,” said Admirals Owner/CEO Harris Turer via press release. “Unfortunately the prospect of playing the season without fans and the lack of any revenue was too difficult to manage. We look forward to getting back on the ice and welcoming our fans back to Panther Arena for the 2021-22 season. We continue to have a strong relationship with the Nashville Predators and the Wisconsin Center District, who have both been helpful and supportive during this time. In addition we would like to thank our fans and corporate partners for their backing and dedication and we look forward to working with them as we look ahead to the 2021-22 season and beyond.”
“While we are disappointed that we cannot resume playing at this time, both the [Florida] Panthers and Checkers feel it is in the best interests of all parties to opt out for this season,” said Checkers Owner and CEO Michael Kahn. “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future. We are appreciative of our partnership with the Florida Panthers regarding the navigation of this very difficult matter and will immediately focus our efforts on beginning the 2021-22 season in the fall.”
Relocations were granted with the full understanding that fans won’t be allowed in the stands. For the Gulls, moving to FivePoint Arena at Great Park Ice means the team will stay close to parent Anaheim Ducks, who practice at Great Park Ice.
Further details, including schedule formats and playoffs, are still to be determined.
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