With all North American hockey leagues having suspended operation, the first one to outright cancel the remaining season and the playoffs is the ECHL.
The @ECHL Board of Governors has announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 Season.— Newfoundland Growlers (@NLGrowlers) March 15, 2020
ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin has issued a statement.
In addition to @FriedgeHNIC report on ECHL cancelling its season, word around the American Hockey League is that a potential return won't mirror what happens with the NHL. Too many different variables, including travel and revenue. They're facing a big challenge.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 15, 2020
But as @PierreVLeBrun reported earlier, the AHL players will be paid.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 15, 2020
The NHL, AHL and ECHL are very interconnected, but the ECHL is at enough of a remove that if the NHL truly can play a playoffs at some point, perhaps even in the summer, they don’t need the ECHL to do that.
The AHL doesn’t actually have to be operating either. NHL teams only need their pool of NHL-contracted recall options to carry on with regular season or playoff games.
The Newfoundland Growlers, Kelly Cup Champions of 2019, finish their truncated season in fourth place by points percentage, first in their division. They have 42 wins, 17 losses and one shootout loss in 60 games. They were, once again, a runaway success.
Growler Brady Ferguson finishes fifth in the league in points for forwards, and Justin Brazeau finishes sixth in goals scored. The league leader is former Growler Josh Kestner. The team followed up their glorious first season with one that might have been even better, as they didn’t have the solid goaltending they did the first time, not until Parker Gahagen showed up. It is truly sad that the Growlers can’t defend their cup win this spring. Last year their cup win was one of the highlights of the season for me.
ECHL players are paid their salaries during the playoffs. There is also a playoff pool that tops that up for participating players. The total pool for this season would have been $235,000 US. Salaries for ECHL-contracted players are very low, and the weekly salary cap this year for each team was $13,780. The players do receive health insurance, a valuable extra for Americans playing in the USA.
From the sounds of Chris Johnston’s comments above, it’s only a matter of time before the AHL season is formally ended as well.
Word is that ECHL players will only be paid through tomorrow following the cancellation of their season. You have to feel for those guys: The average salary is a bit more than $600 per week in that league.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 15, 2020