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Marlies to start AHL season late: report

The Ontario teams are awaiting provincial approval to play

AHL: JAN 25 Toronto Marlies at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the AHL set to begin on February 5, many teams are already in training camp, and some have played preseason games already.

In Canada, the four Canadian AHL teams: Manitoba Moose (Jets), Toronto Marlies, Belleville Senators and Laval Rocket (Canadiens) will form a single division who will only play each other.

In the rest of the AHL, the divisions will also be scheduled to play in-division only, and teams are not required to all play the same number of games.

The reason for the delay is reportedly the lack of provincial approval in Ontario:

If that approval does come by February 10, the four teams can schedule their games. Until then, it would be difficult for the Moose and Rocket to go ahead and schedule a series in advance of the other two teams.

So far the Marlies have signed some players, and have a rudimentary roster that is heavy on defence, and short on forwards. Their expected AHL starter, Michael Hutchinson is now on the Taxi Squad in the NHL and won’t be moving soon. So there’s obvious work to be done yet on the roster itself. It’s telling that nothing has happened yet.

There is a good chance that Canadian NHL teams without AHL teams locally will look to loan some players to other teams. The Canucks have already loaned three players to the Moose, so that could be a source, particularly of a third goalie. No one wants their goalies on the other side of the border.

When there is clarity on when or if the Canadian AHL season can begin, we’ll let you know. So far the AHL and the teams have not made a formal announcement.