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TOUGH NEWS FOR ECHL PLAYERS AS SEVERAL TEAMS ARE OPTING OUT OF THE 2020-21 SEASON

Some bad news for several players in the NHL affiliated ECHL. A report from Sportsnet's Jeff Marek states several teams are dropping out of the 2020-21 season, leaving many players in the lurch.

"Expect the entire North Division to cease operations for the season," said Marek on Twitter. That's Adirondack, Brampton, Maine, Newfoundland, Reading and Worcester."

"Players on those teams are obviously scrambling today as they become free agents," Marek continued. "There is some speculation that teams would retain their rights, however. Trying to get clarification on this."

If the Newfoundland Growlers are indeed ceasing operations for the upcoming season as Marek reports, that means the defending league champions will not be taking part. Newfoundland won the Kelly Cup, the ECHL's top prize, in June of 2019. The Cup was not awarded last season as the league shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will be interesting to see if this decision has any impact on the NHL. The ECHL and AHL are the only minor leagues recognized by the collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association. This means any player signed to an entry-level NHL contract and designated for assignment must report to a club in either of those two leagues. As of the latest report, the NHL is still targeting January 1st for a start date, although that's getting less likely as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across North America.



The ECHL previously announced the 2020-21 season would commence on December 11th under a split-season format. 13 teams were to begin a 72-game season on December 11th, with the remaining teams beginning their season on January 15th, competing in a 62-game season.

Update: the details reported by Marek have now been confirmed by the ECHL. The players involved are now free agents for the 2020-21 season.




TIM TUCKER
NOVEMBER 18, 2020  (10H26)
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