Impact of Rangers and Wolf Pack ECHL affiliate, Maine Mariners suspending season
As the global Pandemic continues, plans for the ECHL are beginning to falter as we approach December and the new season. In October, the ECHL announced a plan that had teams playing on December 4th, or on January 15th. The franchises had an option to “opt out” for the upcoming season if they are unable to make sense of playing.
ECHL teams opt out of play
The first two teams to opt out where the Atlanta Gladiators and Norfolk Admirals in October. Fast forward to mid November, more teams decided to opt out. In fact, the whole North Division of the ECHL opted out.
This includes the Rangers and Wolf Pack affiliate, the Maine Mariners. Maine joins the Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals, and the Worcester Railers to suspend play.
“The 6 teams from the #ECHL North Division have elected to suspend play for the 2020-21 Season under the League’s COVID-19 policy.”ECHL
When and if the AHL resumes, Hartford will be playing without an ECHL affiliate. Chris Drury and the management will have to navigate the difficult waters when re-assigning players from the AHL to the ECHL.
On the AHL level, the league pushed their start date to February. There is still plenty of work to do with the uncertainty of the future.
Impact to Rangers and Wolf Pack
Despite not having an ECHL affiliate for the 2020-21 season, the Wolf Pack will still have opportunity to utilize the ECHL for players that are bumped out of the lineup or need to work on their game.
Hartford could loan players to other non-affiliated ECHL clubs. This prevents the issue of having an abundance of players sitting for lengthy periods of time. From the goalie perspective, it is imperative for Tyler Wall, Adam Huska, and Keith Kinkaid to play a good number of games for development, consistency, and be able to help win games.
Potential Road Blocks on AHL Return to Play?
Given that four of the six AHL teams are based in the Northeast, regulations and restrictions will be tight in comparison to other parts of the country. The two Canadian teams will have similar restrictions as well. Add in the rising levels of spread and cases in the United States, this does not bode well for minor league sports.
There is no guarantee that the AHL will be able to play in February. If franchises are given the OK to play with limited capacity or no fans, you will see teams opting out due to financial reasons. Safety is a priory over everything in the league.
As we approach later into 2020 and into 2021, there are still too many questions to answer before we have a solid indication on when the Wolf Pack returns to the XL Center.
Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe. We will get through this together. I look forward on covering the Wolf Pack further when and if the season begins in 2021.
As we hear further updates, I will keep you in the loop.
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