Six more ECHL teams voluntarily opt-out of 2020-21 season

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The ECHL has announced that six teams will not participate in the 2020-21 season under the COVID voluntary suspension policy.

The entire ECHL North Division has has chosen to voluntarily suspend operations for the coming season. The six teams are the Worcester Railers (Islanders), Maine Mariners (Rangers), Reading Royals (Flyers), Newfoundland Growlers (Maple Leafs), Adirondack Thunder (Devils), and the Brampton Beast (Senators).

“As we continue to navigate the continually changing regulations across North America, we recognize the difficult nature of this decision,: said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “While some of our teams’ host cities have allowed upcoming plans to include fans inside arenas, we unfortunately do not see the same path for these highly-affected areas in the Northeast.”

Following the Norfolk Admirals (independent) and Atlanta Gladiators (Bruins) opting-out in October, the league will move forward with 18 teams in 2020-21.

All eight teams opting out of this season will return to play for the 2021-22 campaign, per the league. Players on those teams are now free agents.

Earlier this month the ECHL revealed its critical dates calendar with a Dec. 11 start for 13 teams playing a 72-game schedule. The remaining teams will begin Jan. 15 and play 62 regular season games with training camps opening New Year’s Day. Standings will be based on winning percentage. The 2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs will begin June 9.

The remainder of the 2019-20 ECHL season was canceled in mid-March due to the pandemic.

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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.