|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
The American Hockey League finally announced definitive plans for the 2020-21 season playoffs today. For the second year in a row and only the second time in league history, the Calder Cup will not be awarded.
In summary, only one of the five divisions will host a playoff tournament, the Pacific. All other divisions, including Texas's Central Division, will end the season without a playoff tournament and award the divisional trophy to the leading team from the regular season by points percentage.
The decision to either hold or not hold a playoff tournament was made by each division separately. It was widely suspected that the most anyone could expect from playoffs would be divisional tournaments without a Calder Cup awarded. This matches those expectations.
Additionally, the league announced that it expects all 31 teams to compete in a 2021-22 season that will start on October 15, 2021 and end on April 24, 2022. The announcement makes no mention of the number of games played but there is currently no reason to believe there will be variation from the expected 76 games. By comparison, this season, the Texas Stars will complete 38 games, half of the usual slate.
Here's the full release:
American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson today announced that due to league COVID-19 protocols, the AHL will not be able to conduct traditional Calder Cup Playoffs in 2021.
Each of the league’s five divisions has been provided the opportunity to independently determine its own postseason format. The members of the Pacific Division will complete the 2020-21 season with a playoff tournament to determine a division champion; members of the other four divisions will not have postseason play.
“While we are disappointed that we will not be able to award the Calder Cup this spring, we are grateful to have been able to provide a safe and competitive environment for more than 1,000 players to play AHL hockey and continue their development,” said Howson. “We’re especially thankful for the work done by our athletic trainers, COVID-19 officers and other front-line workers to ensure the health and safety of all of our players and staff throughout the league.”
In the Pacific Division, a postseason tournament will be held to determine the division championship. The format for the tournament will be announced at a later date. The tournament winner will be awarded the John D. Chick Trophy as champions of the Pacific Division; the Chick Trophy has been presented to an AHL division champion annually since 1961-62.
In the Atlantic Division, the team finishing in first place during the regular season (ranked by points percentage) will be awarded the Emile Francis Trophy as division champions; the Francis Trophy has been presented to an AHL division champion annually since 2001-02.
In the North Division, the team finishing in first place during the regular season (ranked by points percentage) will be awarded the F.G. (Teddy) Oke Trophy as division champions; the Oke Trophy is one of the oldest trophies in North American sports, first presented in 1927 to the London Panthers of the Canadian Professional Hockey League.
In the Canadian Division, the team finishing in first place during the regular season (ranked by points percentage) will be awarded the Frank S. Mathers Trophy as division champions; the Mathers Trophy has been presented to an AHL division or conference champion annually since 1995-96.
In the Central Division, the team finishing in first place during the regular season (ranked by points percentage) will be awarded the Sam Pollock Trophy as division champions; the Pollock Trophy has been presented to an AHL division champion annually since 1995-96.
2021-22 CALENDAR SET
The AHL Board of Governors has also approved the calendar for the 2021-22 season.
The AHL’s 86th season, with 31 clubs expected to be active, will begin October 15, 2021 and conclude April 24, 2022.
Division alignments and schedule information will be announced during the offseason.
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.