The American Hockey League is hoping to play out a full 76-game regular season in 2020-21. After seeing last year’s season cut short in early March, to which the league was put on pause, and then had both its regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs cancelled, the hopes are high that AHL hockey will be back this December.
With young and able brainiacs Steve Yzerman and Kyle Dubas among a host of NHL general managers on the AHL’s return-to-play task force, those in high ranking positions within the American and National Hockey Leagues believe that the upcoming season will occur – just operating differently than it has in past years.
What will certainly be different this season is the relations between a handful of NHL and AHL clubs, as certain affiliation agreements have either expired, been renewed, added or shifted partnerships.
The Henderson Silver Knights will debut in 2020-21 as the Vegas Golden Knights AHL affiliate, freeing the Chicago Wolves from the geographically absurd partnership experienced over the past three seasons. After Vegas purchased the San Antonio Rampage, and turned it into the Silver Knights, the St. Louis Blues were forced to find a new affiliated team. Thus, the Springfield Thunderbirds will now house the Blues’ AHL squad.
And most recently, the affiliate-less Wolves have moved on to Carolina, where Charlotte – the former AHL breeding ground for the Hurricanes has left for the vacant position in Florida, as marked by the departure of Springfield to St. Louis.
“We are proud to be affiliated with such a historically and financially successful American Hockey League franchise,” Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said in the release. “I’m confident our prospects will receive first-class treatment in Chicago, while continuing to be guided by coaches, management and trainers who work closely with the parent club in Raleigh.”
As per an AHL press release, the new deal between Carolina and Chicago is a three-year partnership, while the Florida-Charlotte agreement is considered to be of the ‘multi-year’ variety.
“It’s an exciting day for the Panthers and Checkers organizations,” Panthers GM Bill Zito said. “Building success and establishing a strong culture at the American Hockey League level is vital to the development of our young players. The Checkers have built a winning culture, culminating in a 2019 Calder Cup championship. We feel that with this affiliation, our prospects will be in the right environment to grow and develop into National Hockey League players.”