PRINCETON, N.J. – Just days before 13 teams kick off the 2020-21 ECHL season, several teams announced they have opted out for the upcoming season.
In news first reported by SportsNet’s Jeff Marek, the Cincinnati Cyclones, Idaho Steelheads, and Kalamazoo Wings have opted out of the season. Those three teams join the Atlanta Gladiators, Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Norfolk Admirals, Reading Royals, and Worcester Railers who have exercised their options to suspend play for the coming season.
All players signed by the Cyclones, Steelheads, and Wings are now free agents, per terms of the ECHL/PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The remaining two teams, Fort Wayne Komets and Toledo Walleye, have until February to determine whether they can play this season.
“This decision for our clubs was immensely difficult amidst the everchanging landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to return to play throughout our various jurisdictions,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “We look forward to returning fans and ECHL hockey in these great markets as they shift their focus to the 2021-22 Season.”
“Since March, the Walleye have worked tirelessly with the Lucas County Health Department and the State of Ohio to get hockey back to the Huntington Center,” Walleye Executive Vice President and General Manager Neil Neukam said. “As we continue to do so, we’re appreciative of the ECHL Board of Governors and the PHPA to allow for additional time to plan and execute a 2020-21 season for the Walleye and our fans in a safe and responsible manner.”
Currently, there are no fans allowed in arenas within the state of Michigan, Idaho has a maximum of 10 fans allowed in arenas, while Ohio arenas can have a maximum of 300 people in their arenas.
“Today is a difficult day for everyone in the Cyclones organization,” said Cyclones Alternate Governor and General Manager Kristin Ropp. “We pride ourselves in being a staple of affordable family fun in the Cincinnati community and look forward to the day when Cyclones fans can safely return to Heritage Bank Center. We will now turn our attention to the 2021-2022 season and to elevating an already superb level of entertainment for Cyclones fans. While we will miss seeing our fans this year, we vow to return to the ice with a better product than ever before. We wish all our fans, players, and staff continued good health.”
Stay with The Sin Bin as we continue to update this developing story.