Rockford IceHogs: The AHL will not continue the 2019-20 season

Kevin Lankinen, Blackhawks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Kevin Lankinen, Blackhawks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

It was announced today that the Rockford IceHogs’ season would not continue, do to the AHL not finishing their season due to COVID-19.

No, they didn’t miss the playoffs, and it doesn’t even matter if they were ready for a chance at the Calder Cup. Multiple news outlets have reported the AHL has canceled the remainder of 2019-2020. Chicago’s AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs are done for the year.

This is the opposite of the NHL which is actively trying to complete the 2019-2020 season.

It was reported by SportsNet that money was a driving issue for the decision.

"“Playing ghost games — those with no fans — is not an option for most AHL teams.”That’s a major reason why it was no longer considered feasible to try and conclude this season and playoffs, making 2020 the first year where the Calder Cup won’t be awarded since first being introduced in 1937.”"

The league is responsible for the health and safety of all participants, i.e. players, coaches, fans, arena staff, and so on. Pausing the season during the pandemic was the right thing to do, but the move to cancel the remainder of the season was money. What this means for next year is uncertain.

How will this impact player development? What happens if there’s a significant delay in getting the AHLoff the ground because it’s not financially possible? What about calling players up in the event of a 24-team  playoff for the NHL? Will NHL teams be allowed to carry expanded rosters into next year to account for a possible lag in the AHL’s season?

SportsNet had noted that in the event of the playoffs actually taking place, “teams believe they’ll return with expanded rosters of up to 30 players if it manages to restart.”

Perhaps the expanded rosters could be carried into next season if the AHL is having trouble resuming? Maybe a broadcast package could be worked out that could be appealing for fans.

If the AHL has to play games to empty stadiums, or smaller crowds, then maybe a (very) competitively priced streaming package could be offered to cover differences in revenues? I won’t lie, I think it could be really interesting if there was some kind of joint NHL/AHL broadcast package prepared for the 2020-2021 season.

Like with anything in the sports world, there are simply a lot of unknowns. One thing is certain though, the Rockford IceHogs have completed their season in a surprising and disappointing way. Here’s hoping everyone remains in good health and high spirits.

Here is a statement from the AHL that was tweeted earlier today:

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