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2020-21 AHL SEASON REMAINS UP IN THE AIR

If the American Hockey League decides to play its 2020-21 season, it won't be without the NHL's help. The AHL will likely be losing a significant amount of revenue due to fans not being able to enter arenas. Without fans, a ticket driven league such as the AHL would certainly feel the financial impact. Without a national television deal, like that of the National Hockey League, the AHL is in a very tough spot.

AHL president and CEO Scott Howsen, is waiting for his turn to have a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss the upcoming season.

“It’s got to make sense,” began Scott Howson. “If we’re able to play it’s going to be more about player supply and player development this year than anything else. Without fans in the buildings, it’s certainly not going to be about any meaningful revenue. So yes, we’re going to want to know what the NHL is doing before we finalize what our plan is going to be.”

There are three key issues the NHL and AHL will have to discuss prior to the 2020-21 season. The first issue is that 12 of the current 31 AHL franchises are not owned by their NHL club, and the AHL would need support on the NHL's end in order to help these teams run.

Another issue is the Canada/US border. The three Western Canadian NHL clubs all have their affiliate teams located within the United States. Both Calgary and Edmonton's AHL affiliates reside in California, while Vancouver's resides in New York. How would those three teams be able to call-up players, if they are subjected to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period following travel put in place by the Canadian government.

There has been talk of professional sports teams, and players being exempt from the quarantine, and even the possibility of rapid testing being available at airports, but it seems to be all talk at the moment.

The third and final key issue is testing. The AHL will certainly need financial support from the NHL to carry out such a widespread testing program. In early July, prior to the NHL opening up training camps, the league estimated they would need roughly 25,000 to 35,000 tests, at a cost of $125 per test. That estimate went on to set the NHL back about $4 million. That was for two months, and only 24 of the NHL's 31 teams. How much would it cost the AHL for 5-6 months, for all 31 teams? If you factor all of that in, the AHL would not be able to foot the bill with very little revenue coming in.



Currently, the AHL has a tentative start date of February 5th, 2021, but without help from the NHL, or the ability to have fans in attendance, the potential for a 2020-21 AHL could go right out the window.



Source: Sportsnet
COOPER GODIN
NOVEMBER 27, 2020  (23H35)
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