SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson announced today that the 2020-21 season will include 28 teams when it gets underway on February 5.
The AHL will operate in five divisions this season. Further details, including schedule formats and playoffs, are still to be determined.
Four teams have been granted provisional relocations for the 2020-21 season: the Binghamton Devils will play in Newark, N.J.; the Ontario Reign will play in El Segundo, Calif.; the Providence Bruins will play in Marlborough, Mass.; and the San Diego Gulls will play in Irvine, Calif.
The Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield Thunderbirds have elected to opt out of play for the 2020-21 season. All three teams will return to play in 2021-22.
Also announced today, the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues will be sharing an affiliation with the AHL’s Utica Comets for the upcoming season.
The partnership was created after the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, opted out of the coming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canucks and Blues will each be responsible for filling roster spots on the Utica Comets. Team and business operations for the Comets will continue as in past years, including Robert Esche serving as team president, Ryan Johnson as general manager and Trent Cull as head coach.
“We are very pleased to partner with the Blues to find solutions that help both teams during this unique season,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning. “We have strong leadership and support in Utica and I believe our players and our teams will benefit from this partnership.”
“Due to the unique circumstances, we are pleased to partner with Vancouver and Utica for the upcoming 2020-21 season,” said Blues president of hockey operations/general manager Doug Armstrong. “We trust that our players will be in good hands with the direction and leadership of the Canucks, Comets and especially Robert, Ryan and Trent.”
“Vancouver and Utica have worked together seamlessly over the past eight seasons, and this experience has been no different,” said Esche. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with the St. Louis Blues in the same fashion as our Vancouver Canucks.”