Friday, 31 July 2020

Return To Work Dates

With the NHL getting back to work officially tomorrow to end the 2019-20 season, there are question about when the 2020-21 season will start. The NHL always releases its schedule before the AHL does due to some of the teams sharing buildings, so we were awaiting the announcement of an official start date from the NHL in order for the rest of the chips to fall. With the NHL eyeing December 1, 2020 as a start date, the AHL finally released their plans to get things rolling for their league as well! We can now start making plans for that December 1 date based on the AHL's announcement yesterday!

As per American Hockey League President and CEO Scott Howson, the AHL Board of Governors has approved a start date for the 2020-21 AHL season to begin on December 4, 2020. There is no schedule that has been planned yet, but that will follow as we near that date for all 31 teams including the new Henderson Silver Knights who will play this season in Henderson, Nevada.

As stated above, that December 4 start date means that the NHL season will indeed begin at the start of December. The NHL usually starts their season on a Wednesday which would mean a December 2 start date, but we're talking about condensing a full 82-game schedule for the NHL clubs. I'd hope that they use the extra day - Tuesday, December 1 - to get things going because every day will count when it comes to squeezing all these games in with all the travel and required days off as per the CBA.

There were no other details released by the AHL about the conference call held yesterday representing the 2020 Annual Board of Governors Meeting, so if there are rule changes or decisions needed to be made at a league level those will have to be brought to the table following the conclusion of the NHL season in Toronto and Edmonton. In any case, having a start date for the AHL likely means we'll see the ECHL come out with plans for their 2020-21 season shortly as well.

If there is one piece of good news about next year's ECHL season, it's that the Adirondack Thunder, the ECHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, are bringing back former Union College netminder Alex Sakellaropoulos on a one-year deal. The jersey to the right is Sakellaropoulos' jersey with the Binghamton Devils when he was in camp with the AHL club last season, and his name bar appears to be an equipment manager's nightmare. What made his journey a little more fun last season is he earned three AHL call-ups while playing with Adirondack, dressing for Binghamton, Utica and Springfield! That means his rather incredible 15-letter last name has now been on jerseys for Quad City, Jacksonville, Worcester, Adirondack, Norfolk, and Rapid City in the ECHL, Pensacola in the SPHL, and Binghamton, Utica and Springfield in the AHL as a professional hockey player!

In any case, if things are good with the whole pandemic come December in both Canada and the US, it seems like hockey will do its best to get itself going again. While a return to normalcy wouldn't be a bad thing, there's still a lot of work to do before anyone even mentions hockey in December. Let's do our part by wearing masks, maintaining distances, and being smart.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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