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AHL targets February 5 as start date for 2020-21 season

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AHL: DEC 28 Grand Rapids Griffins at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The American Hockey League has sent a potential date to begin the 2020-21 season.

The league’s board of governors approved February 5th as the anticipated start date, this is of course, all due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the announcement is encouraging to hockey fans, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. The big one — Will there be fans in attendance?

This is a tricky subject, because one would imagine it would vary by market. Unfortunately for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Michigan is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, but it’s tough to forecast where we’ll be in February. Will it be better? Will it be the same? Will it (god forbid) be worse? The way I see it, the AHL is heavily dependent on having butts in the seats, and without that, revenue will be on life support. There’s also the dilemma of prospects playing in Europe right now. As the AHL notes, further details are still to be determined.

While it’s good to see a potential date set, there’s a long list of obstacles to be cleared before the AHL can drop the puck.

Full release from the AHL:

American Hockey League President and CEO Scott Howson has announced that the league’s Board of Governors has approved moving the anticipated start date of the 2020-21 season to February 5, 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

The AHL continues to work with its member clubs to monitor developments and local guidelines in all 31 league cities. Further details regarding the 2020-21 American Hockey League season are still to be determined.

In operation since 1936, the AHL serves as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.