American Hockey League cancels remainder of 2019-20 season, playoffs

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TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 12: Linseman Kevin Hastings #61 drops the puck between Colin Greening #38 of the Toronto Marlies and Alexander Nylander #92 of the Rochester Americans during AHL game action on January 12, 2019 at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 12: Linseman Kevin Hastings #61 drops the puck between Colin Greening #38 of the Toronto Marlies and Alexander Nylander #92 of the Rochester Americans during AHL game action on January 12, 2019 at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

The American Hockey League has canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 regular season as well as the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The league, which serves as the NHL’s primary feeder system, announced the decision Monday following “a lengthy review process,” stating that the focus has shifted now to preparations for the 2020-21 season.

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From the official statement:

“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.”

While AHL organizations turn their focus now to the fall, that might not necessarily be the case for a number of players. In echoing the league’s statement Monday, the Toronto Marlies noted that “select” players will join the Toronto Maple Leafs “if permitted by the NHL’s resumption of play protocols.”

Though vague, it seems the NHL plans to expands rosters or allow teams to carry extra players from the farm system in the event that the league is able to resume its season. This makes a great deal of sense, because without leaning on the foundations for player development and building a taxi-squad system into the NHL’s return-to-play discussion, teams would be left incredibly thin, and therefore without an answer for injuries, illness or absences.

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