On Friday, the American Hockey League revealed their 2020-21 schedule, which will begin on February 5th, and end on May 16th. The first game of the season will feature the New York Islanders affiliate, Bridgeport, taking on the Boston Bruins affiliate, Providence, at 1pm ET on Friday, February 5th.

The schedule includes several oddities, including the omission of the All-Canadian Division. The reason why the Canadian Division was not included on the schedule was due to Ontario Public Health not signing off. The provincial public health authorities need to approve the guidelines put in place in order for the puck to be dropped in the Canadian Division.

COVID-19 cases, and the rate of positivity are slowly going down in the province of Ontario, which is under a lockdown, and stay-at-home orders until February 10th. It's possible the Canadian Division won't start until after that date, if public health authorities sign off on an agreement.

One other major issue that needs to be addressed, is where the Belleville Senators will play this season. There have been talks about moving the team to Ottawa so they can play out of the Canadian Tire Centre, but there is no word on where those talks stand as of January 22nd.

Another oddity in the schedule is that most teams are playing a different total number of games. For example, in the Pacific Division, the Bakersfield Condors, Stockton Heat, San Jose Barracuda, Tucson Roadrunners, and Henderson Silver Knights are scheduled to play 40 regular season games. The Colorado Eagles, and Ontario Reign are scheduled to play 38, while the San Diego Gulls are scheduled to play 44.

There is excitement around the AHL, but of course the league has to be prepared in case any outbreaks arise. AHL President Scott Howson said today that the league is ready for the season, and the challenges it may bring.

"As we prepare for a season unlike any other in our 85-year history, our priorities are first and foremost health and safety." said AHL President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson. "Our main objective is to provide a safe environment for our players to continue their development towards a career in the National Hockey League."

Source: AHL
JANUARY 22, 2021  (13H01)
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