AHL cancels remainder of 2019-20 season

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The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the American Hockey League voting to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs.

“After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions,” AHL president and CEO David Andrews said in a statement. “The League’s operational focus has turned toward actively preparing for the 2020-21 season.

“We are very grateful to the National Hockey League and its teams for their support and leadership in navigating through the challenges faced over the past two months. The AHL continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21.”

[MORE: AHL Utica sells ‘Puck the Virus’ shirts to help employees]

This will be the first time the Calder Cup will not be awarded since the league began in 1936.

According to the AHL, the standings will be sorted by points percentage and “are considered final and official” as of the March 12 stoppage. The Milwaukee Admirals are first in that category with 71.4% after recording 90 points through 63 games. In second are the Providence Bruins with 66.1% through 62 games (82 points).

The AHL’s Board of Governors held a Friday conference call to discuss the future of this season. Playing games in empty arenas would cause too much of a financial blow to teams for the gate-driven league. There have already been questions about whether the start of the 2020-21 season will have to be delayed.

“There is a lot of uncertainties,” Andrews told the National Post last week. “We need to do some financial modeling for next season. Some teams can sustain to play games with no fans in the building. But it’s not a large number of games.”

As the NHL continues trying to come up with a feasible way to complete its season — when given the green light — it’s been discussed that teams would allow to add several players from their AHL affiliates in “black ace” roles.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.