ALLEN, Texas – What a difference 24 hours makes. If you were glued to social media yesterday like me you saw the professional hockey leagues suspend their season in what seemed like a coordinated order. The NHL announced they were suspending the season first, followed by the AHL a few hours later, the ECHL late in the afternoon and finally the SPHL.
– There are more questions than answers at this point and if there is anything we can all agree on is the health and safety of players, employees and fans are paramount. Here are some of the things that have been on my mind since hearing about the ECHL suspending the season.
– The Allen Americans spent yesterday flying to Utah where they were scheduled to play a three-game series against the Grizzlies starting tonight. With the suspension of the season, they made plans to fly back to Allen this morning.
– This is not a cancellation of the season it is a suspension. I have seen it referred to as a pause. In the press release announcing the suspension, the league says in part, “We will continue to work with national and local health officials and local governments to monitor the situation.” In other words, it remains to be seen if, how and when the season will resume. Here is the ECHL press release: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2020/3/echl-suspends-play
– The team will stay in Allen, they will get paid but they will not be allowed to practice. The ECHL provided very explicit guidance that includes there are to be no team activities including appearances, skating, and weight training. Team locker rooms are to be closed and no one permitted in them.
– It will certainly be unfortunate if the season does not resume given Allen has one of the best records in the ECHL (40-14-6-2) and are in position for a deep playoff run. All the players can do now is act like the professionals they are and take care of themselves during what will hopefully be a short hiatus. Stay in shape, eat right and assume the season is not over.
– When I asked coach Martinson about what has happened he was as usual direct and to the point, “It is disappointing that it came to this. Hopefully, things calm down and we can resume playing.”
– The financial impact on the team is certainly secondary to health and safety but could be catastrophic for some ECHL teams. Allen has five home games remaining which could be a loss of revenue from roughly 22,000 tickets. That would translate to an estimated loss in the neighborhood of $350,000 with my back of the envelope computation.
– The Allen front office went above and beyond the call of duty yesterday during the turmoil that was happening, mostly out of their control. I am sure they were wondering what the future holds for them while putting together information for fans. Here is a link to the press release issued by the Americans. At the bottom of the press release is a FAQ link that answers many of the questions related to the ticket refund policy. https://allenamericans.com/update/
– The other group you worry about are all of the folks this will impact. I assume more events than hockey will be postponed or canceled at the Allen Event Center. Will this impact the ice crew who are a big part of the Allen Americans family? It will certainly impact the vendors, concession workers, ushers, bartenders, cleaning crew to name just a few.
– With all of the uncertainty the best advice is to be kind, be flexible, be smart and be safe. Take care of yourself and take care of others.
DID YOU KNOW: Levity is often the best medicine when going through times like these. I still chuckle every time I think about what I included in the blog yesterday, “If the Americans end up playing games without an audience how will the players know when to shoot the puck on the power play.” It makes me laugh because there are several fans (you know who you are) that sit near me that give the shoot the puck advice all of the time. Here are a few comments I received yesterday that made me smile.
“Why didn’t this happen last season.”
“Now that everything is suspended, all of the ECHL teams need to identify their best gamers and play EA Sports version of the ECHL Games.”
“This is slowing down Martinson’s chase of Scotty Bowman for most pro wins all time.”
“Hope Biscuit doesn’t get laid off and sent to the “Dog Pound.”
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