LAVAL, QC – The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors held a second meeting regarding the start of the 2020-21 season on Monday. The follow-up meeting coincided with the league’s opt-out deadline.
The National Hockey League kicked off training camp on Sunday, January 3, with physicals and administrative procedures. On Monday, team practices started up, and the hockey world rejoiced!
With all the news surrounding the NHL, the AHL may have gotten a bit lost in the shuffle but raise your glasses, Rocket fans – all signs point to Laval’s return in February!
OUR STORY SO FAR:
- On December 30, the Board of Governors met and approved a plan to open play on February 5, 2021.
- On January 4, the Board met one more time to hammer out more details on the upcoming season, including the number of games, division alignments, and which teams would actually participate in the modified season.
ALL SYSTEMS GO
The AHL announced Monday afternoon that 28 teams will be participating in the abbreviated 2020-21 season. Pending provincial approval, Laval and the other three Canadian teams will compete against each other in the Canadian Division.
28 teams will be participating in @TheAHL's 2020-21 season, which opens Feb. 5
— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) January 4, 2021
An all-Canadian division certainly adds an extra element of fun to the Rocket’s season. It provides the perfect opportunity to establish friendly competition with the other AHL teams north of the border and deepen the rivalry that exists with the Toronto Marlies, a rivalry that stems from the longstanding NHL rivalry of the Montréal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
THE GREAT UNKNOWN
While divisional re-alignment and the temporary exclusion of three teams from the league (Charlotte, Milwaukee, and Springfield) are sure to provide a scheduling hurdle and will certainly change the playoff format, those specifics still have to be ironed out.
One other question remains: what will Laval’s roster look like when February rolls around?
The Canadiens currently have a large swath of Rocket players attending training camp, including every single one of Laval’s goaltenders. Once cuts are made at camp, it’s reasonable to expect that the taxi squad will retain a Rocket or two.
Interestingly, the Rocket might see a very fresh face join the ranks for the 2021 campaign – Kaiden Guhle, fresh off a solid performance at the World Juniors Championship. Here’s how:
A team source reached out to mention NHL teams can have their CHL prospects play in the AHL up until their CHL league gets going and that is something the Canadiens might like to do with Kaiden Guhle. Would be rare opportunity to work with a young CHL prospect at the pro level.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) January 4, 2021
As the AHL continues to work out details and the Canadiens finalize their opening night roster, the bigger picture of the Rocket’s makeup will come into focus.
One certain thing is that the Rocket are back! Now, who’s ready to do that hockey?!