By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
One of the many leagues caught up in a COVID-19 pause, the American League Hockey decided on Monday that a return later this year is not in the cards, as AHL president and CEO David Andrews announced the cancellation of the 2019-20 season.
“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,” Andrews said in a statement. “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.”
While no player wants to see a season canceled without a resolution, the news is an especially devastating blow to the Providence Bruins.
Led by third-year head coach Jay Leach, the P-Bruins entered the Mar. 12 pause atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, with 82 points by way of a 38-18-6 record. And after back-to-back first-round exits, the P-Bruins seemed truly primed for their best shot at a Calder Cup since they won it all back in 1999.
According to the AHL’s release, all standings and statistics from when the league went on pause will be considered final for awards and record books, meaning the P-Bruins will win the Frank Mathers Trophy as the East’s regular-season champions as well as the Emile Francis Trophy for their work as the Atlantic’s top team.
Individually, Daniel Vladar should get some consideration for the Baz Bastien Memorial Award, awarded annually to the league’s top goaltender, for a 2019-20 that included the league’s top goals against average (1.79) and save percentage (.936) to go with a 14-7-1 record in 25 appearances. That 1.79 goals against average will earn Vladar the “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award, at least, which is awarded to the goalie with the AHL’s lowest goals against average.
Jack Studnicka, meanwhile, should get some love for the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award, which is awarded to the AHL’s rookie of the year, after a year that finishes with 23 goals and 49 points in 60 contests. The 21-year-old Studnicka’s 49 points were the third-most among all rookies, while his seven shorthanded goals were the most among all AHL skaters.
And although the AHL season is finished, it’s fair to expect a few P-Bruins skaters to find themselves back on the ice at some point this summer should the NHL return as planned, as the Bruins will want some extra bodies for their ‘training camp’ ramp-up and in the event of injuries striking the NHL roster.