We interrupt the NHL Free Agency Frenzy for the latest updates from the ECHL as they attempt to get the 2020-2021 season off the ground.
Originally, the league had announced in August a target date of December 4th to start the season. With nearly all ECHL cities nowhere close to reopening home arenas for fans, the league has pushed back the start of the season to two different dates.
Thirteen ECHL teams, including the Orlando Solar Bears, will start a full 72-game schedule on December 11th. Allen, Florida, Greenville, Indy, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Rapid City, South Carolina, Tulsa, Utah, Wheeling, and Wichita will also start their campaigns.
The remaining participating teams—Adirondack, Brampton, Cincinnati, Fort Wayne, Idaho, Kalamazoo, Maine, Newfoundland, Norfolk, Reading, Toledo, and Worcester—will start a 62-game schedule on January 15, 2021. Atlanta has opted out this season, and plan to return to play in the 2021-22 campaign.
A schedule will be announced at a later date, as long as the season is not pushed back further due to virus restrictions. The schedule will come out in two segments: for the 13 teams starting first, a schedule for December 11th-January 14th will be released, followed by the remaining teams for January 15th on. The regular season will end on June 6th. Much like the AHL’s Pacific/rest of league set-up, league standings will be based on regular season winning percentage. The Kelly Cup playoff format has yet to be determined.
More Signings...and a Farewell
Meanwhile, the Solar Bears have continued to build their roster as the mid-December start date approaches. Among the latest to sign on for the 2020-21 season:
-Forward Tyler Bird, who earned a PTO with Syracuse just prior to the pause, returns to Orlando for his third professional season. He appeared in 34 games for the Solar Bears in 2019-20, with five goals and six assists. He made his AHL debut with the Crunch in late February, notching two assists in 5 games.
-Another returning forward is Taylor Cammarata, who joined Orlando in January as part of a three-way trade with Idaho and Maine. In 28 games with the Solar Bears, the 25-year-old had 8 goals and 9 assists.
-One of the newest Solar Bears is rookie defenseman Luke McInnis, who comes to central Florida after a four-year collegiate career at Boston College. In his senior season, the Hingham, Massachusetts native appeared in 34 games with 2 goals and 8 assists. He is the son of former NHL forward Marty McInnis, who appeared in nearly 800 NHL games with the Islanders, Flames, Mighty Ducks, and Bruins.
-Three months after signing to return to the Solar Bears, forward Trevor Olson, who lea the team in scoring last season, has decided instead to hang up his skates, announcing his retirement on his Instagram account.
View this post on Instagram
Today marks the day that I retire from the game of hockey. 22 years of playing the sport that I love, it’s been a blessing! So thankful for everyone that has been a part of this journey, I couldn’t have done it without all of you. Thanks to my coaches for believing in me and teaching me how to be a better hockey player, and ultimately, a better human. Thank you to my teammates.. if you know me, and the way that I played, I did it for you guys. Nothing I loved more than taking a puck to the face for my goaltenders. My family.. without you, I am nothing. You have allowed me to follow my dreams for 22 years, I’m so damn lucky. Ultimately my love for the grind has diminished. I will always love hockey but I have lost touch with that inner fight and hope to find something new to fight for! I’m so excited for a fresh start and a new beginning. I walk out on hockey as a National Champion, a captain, an MVP, a healthy scratch, a 4th line enforcer, a point leader and a friend. If any of my teammates ever need anything, I will ALWAYS be here for you. Thank you all for believing in me!!
He also wrote a thank you letter:
FloSports TV to Stream ECHL Games
Last week, the ECHL announced a partnership with FloSports to host ECHL.TV starting with the 2020-21 season. Along with the ECHL regular season and playoffs, FloSports also streams CCHA, WCHA, and Atlantic college hockey, and motorsports, cycling, wrestling, and other sporting events. A monthly subscription will run you about the same cost as Netflix, and can be streamed on iOS, Android, Fire TV, and Chromecast.