While the NHL is still trying to salvage the rest of its season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AHL has conceded. According to an official press release from the league, the AHL will cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season and the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The AHL Board of Governors has voted to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 AHL regular season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 11, 2020
This really doesn’t come as much of a surprise. While a major league like the NHL might push to get its season finished with a made-for-TV tournament, the AHL doesn’t have the same level of interest or following to make it worth their while. Professional leagues in Europe axed their seasons all the way back in March and early April, so the writing was always on the walls for the AHL.
From a How Does This Affect The Leafs perspective, it doesn’t change much. The Marlies weren’t poised to go on a deep playoff run as they were sitting on the outside looking in when the league was paused. They’ll finish their season with a 29-27-5 record, good for seventh in the league’s North Division.
The bigger picture for the AHL isn’t about this year. There’s a genuine concern for the league’s long-term health. If the AHL can’t have fans in the building in 2020-21, it’s very likely the league won’t be able to operate since its revenue is almost entirely gate-driven.