This morning, the American Hockey League announced that their 2019-20 season is over. A vote by the AHL Board of Governors was taken and it was decided to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs. For the first time since 1937, the Calder Cup will not be awarded. This is due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Here is the statement from the league’s website:
“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.
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.”
The AHL does not have large-scale media deals or sponsorships as with major leagues. They have affiliations with NHL teams but it is an independent league. Their revenue is largely driven by attendance. With the worldwide spread the Coronavirus, sporting events with a crowd is not happening and will not happen anytime soon. The AHL is looking ahead to 2020-21 but even that is not a guarantee given the state of the pandemic. Hopefully, the situation will be different and the pandemic will be less severe in a few months from now. At this point in time, games without fans is the best anyone can hope for and even that is not necessarily a feasible option. It definitely is not for the AHL.
The announcement did state that all standings and statistics as of March 12, 2020 will be considered final. This means the Binghamton Devils finished fourth in the North Division with a record of 34-24-4 with 72 points. After their start to the season, getting to a winning record at all was a real feat. They finish a point behind third-place Utica, although the Comets had a game in hand. I believe this would make the B-Devils qualify for the playoffs if there were going to be playoffs based on these standings. They were absolutely scorching prior to the pandemic putting the league on hold. Binghamton had a seven game winning streak and were 9-1-0 in their last ten games. They were just a win away from tying a season-high eight game winning streak from earlier in the year. While they were by no means safely securing a playoff spot, they had a better than a long shot at doing it. Binghamton was a far cry better in 2020 than they were in the 2019 portion of the season.
With the season’s end, Brett Seney ends up as the team’s leading goal and point scorer of the season. He put up 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points in 61 games. Seney also led the team in shots with 154 and finished second on the team in power play goals with 5 and penalty minutes with 6. Team captain Ben Street was not only the B-Devils’ All-Star representative but he finished the season not far behind Seney in scoring with 15 goals and 27 assists in 49 games. He did lead the team in PPGs with 6, won a shootout once, and even received a call-up. The team was very much scoring by committee as Seney, Nathan Bastian (16), Street, Joey Anderson, Chris Connor, Mikhail Maltsev, and Yegor Sharangovich cracked the double digit mark in goals. The in-seasons acquisitions of Nick Merkley and Janne Kuokkanen were quite productive as well. In net, Cory Schneider ended up a bit better than Gilles Senn and Evan Cormier in terms of save percentage. Bringing Zane McIntyre was big as he was hot - a 97.7% save percentage! - in his four appearances with Binghamton. There were plenty of players doing plenty of good things upstate as the team heated up and caught fire. Alas, their seasons are done and we will not know how far they would have gone.
For fans who have Binghamton Devils tickets, please go to the Ticket FAQ at the Binghamton Devils website. They have the details on what you can do with the tickets for now-cancelled games. Essentially, they are offering credit or vouchers for games in 2020-21. Similar to the parent teams, the AHL teams are looking ahead to next season.
What about call-ups? This presumes there will be National Hockey League games. That the AHL decided in early May to end their season leaves the National Hockey League as the only professional hockey league who has not cancelled their 2020-21 season and/or playoffs. Rumors are flying every which way as proposals are being investigated. Nothing has been decided on yet and the situation is fluid just as to what is allowed from state to state and province to province is fluid. Like the rest of the NHL, I would think the status for calling up players is also up in the air.
This is definitely bad news. It is understandably the right call. With no near end in sight for the pandemic and no idea when fans would be allowed to attend games (nevermind how many would go initially), there became less and less reason to salvage the AHL 2020-21 season. It stinks for Binghamton since, again, they were hot and they were making real strides to be a postseason team. It could be worse. This is the last season for the San Antonio Stampede. The franchise was bought by the Las Vegas Golden Knights and they are moving to Henderson, Nevada next season. It remains to be seen if an AHL franchise will move or begin anew San Antonio again. It is a small reason in the big picture, but it is another reason why the Worst Thing from Wuhan is the literal Worst.
I’d like to know your thoughts about this morning’s news. Are you surprised by today’s decision by the AHL? Are you more surprised they decided this in May? With the AHL done for 2020-21, do you feel any less confident about the NHL making a return? With respect to Binghamton, do you think they would have qualified for the playoffs had there been no pandemic? What were your favorite memories from the B-Devils’ run in 2020? Will the team build on this for next season? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Binghamton Devils and the AHL in the comments. Thank you for reading.