As we all know, the coronavirus pandemic that has been sweeping our world took its first hit at the sports world two months ago today, March 11, as positive tests from players on the Utah Jazz led the NBA to postpone its season. The remainder of the major professional sports leagues quickly followed suit, including the postponement of the American Hockey League season March 12.
While certain other leagues are currently exploring avenues to try to resume (NBA, NHL) or open (MLB) their seasons, the AHL this morning took the opposite track.
The AHL Board of Governors has voted to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 AHL regular season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.— AHL (@TheAHL) May 11, 2020
→ https://t.co/b8XoXIimHE pic.twitter.com/G1fafFhJHV
Per the excellent reporting of Patrick Williams (seriously, go pay attention to him if you don’t already):
In addition, all statistics as of March 12th should be considered final.#AHL— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) May 11, 2020
To that end, the 21st season of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins ends with a record of 29-26-3-5, 66 points, and a .524 points percentage in 63 games, finishing sixth in the Atlantic Division by points percentage.
WBS’s scoring leaders for the season ended up being two players who didn’t even play the full season with the team. Riley Barber finished with a combined 16 goals and 21 assists for 37 points on the season. Only six of those points were with the Penguins, as Barber spent the majority of his season with Laval, before a trade sent him to play seven games with Wilkes-Barre. Kevin Roy finished with 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points, splitting time between Springfield and Wilkes-Barre.
Among the full-season Penguins prospects, Adam Johnson leads all scorers with 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 points in 48 games, while captain David Warsofsky led defenders on the team with 10 goals and 23 assists in 51 games. Forward Anthony Angello tied Barber for the team’s goal lead with 16 of his own through 48 games.
The league’s focus now turns to 2020-2021, where even that far into the future there aren’t clear answers.
Regarding a timeline for the 2020-21 AHL season, that is still to be determined.— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) May 11, 2020
The season could be delayed from its standard October start. US Thanksgiving, December, or January could be starting times, depending on the US and Canadian health situations.#AHL
For my money, it’s an expected decision to cancel the season, and it’s the correct decision. Without the large league-wide TV deals of the bigger pro leagues, the AHL and its franchises depend on gate revenue much more than anything else. If you don’t allow fans to attend out of a sense of safety, then there goes the largest revenue source for the league. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable attending any sort of public event with that many people until there’s rock-solid mitigation procedures in place against this pandemic.
Be safe, friends. I don’t know when we’ll be playing the games again, but I’ll see you again when we do.