Detroit – The NHL continues to hold out hope for resuming its season, but the American Hockey League is apparently done.
The NHL’s primary minor league, the AHL, paused its season March 12 – along with the NHL – and held a Board of Governors meeting Friday afternoon.
An official announcement from the AHL is expected Monday, with numerous reports indicating the AHL season will end.
That would include the Red Wings’ minor league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, who were in playoff position, third place in the Central Division, with a 29-27-7 record.
Too many obstacles, including the inability for teams to gather and practice, players having left their in-season cities to return home, and little runway left to begin a training camp and resuming a season, have hurt the AHL’s chances to return.
But what about the 2020-21 AHL season?
That topic will be closely watched in the months ahead by NHL executives, given many of hockey’s top young prospects play in the AHL. For the Red Wings that would include Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno on the Griffins.
The AHL is a gate-driven league – similar to minor league baseball – and until fans are allowed to gather in arenas, it’s difficult to imagine the AHL playing games again.
For economic reasons, it’s unlikely the AHL would play with no fans in the stands. Many of the major junior leagues are expected to be in the same situation, and are likely to delay the start of their seasons.
It’s expected the AHL could resume some time around December, around the same time it’s thought the NHL will begin the 2020-21 season.