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AHL Announces Start Date for 2020-21 Season

2020-21 AHL season

AHL president Scott Howson announced that the league’s Board of Governors has approved the 2020-21 AHL season. Some details are still being worked out, but the league is set to start on February 5, 2021.

AHL Announces Season Start Date

With the AHL announcing its season, all three major professional hockey leagues will be playing this year. The NHL’s original plan for this season didn’t take the playing of an AHL team into account. Now that they are set to play, this gives NHL clubs a lot of flexibility with how they manage their rosters. In addition to roster flexibility, the league will likely have to realign their divisions to match their NHL affiliates. For the four Canadian AHL clubs, this isn’t as big of an issue. They are all operated and run by Canadian clubs, which makes player movement easier. If there is a cross-divisional trade between trades, however, quarantine protocols would complicate things for the clubs.

Speaking of the Canadian NHL teams who have AHL affiliates in the U.S., calling up or sending down players won’t happen with the border being closed. The proposed taxi squad for NHL teams should help alleviate that problem.

What This Means for the Future

AHL clubs playing seasons is, generally, a good thing for overall league and team revenues. With the NHL, AHL, and ECHL all running a season in some capacity, it keeps teams afloat in this shaky period of hockey operations and management. It also provides proper development opportunities for younger players that belong to NHL clubs. The European game, although very similar, is still a different style of play. Having AHL clubs up and running this season allows coaches and general managers flexibility to develop their European prospects and adjust them to the North American game.

The AHL running also a great opportunity for clubs and the league to expand the games reach and influence. One of the major issues that hockey faces is its marketability to wider audiences. Having professional hockey, even if it isn’t the highest level, playing in the smaller market arenas continues the overall effort to expand the reach of hockey in America.

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