Springfield, MA - The American Hockey League (AHL) has moved the anticipated start date of the 2020-21 season to February 5, 2021, AHL President and CEO Scott Howson announced, Wednesday.
The league's Board of Governors voted nearly unanimously to approve the move amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to Utica Comets President Rob Esche, who serves on the Board.
"I was happy with the vote [Wednesday]," Esche told NEWSChannel 2 in a statement. "It has been worked on extensively and we obviously are optimistic with starting up on that date."
This will be another two month delay from it's previous target start date of December 4, 2020.
The AHL said it will work with its member clubs to monitor developments and the latest local guidelines in all 31 team cities, including Utica.
"I feel [this delay] allows time for all levels of decision makers to get a safe plan together for reopening while also focusing on the development of athletes at all ages," said Esche. "Both being extremely important."
There have been no decisions made regarding further logistics just yet according to the AHL's release. Additional details such as fan attendance and schedule parameters are still to be determined. Those will be announced at a later date.
"Safety is everyone's main concern for fans, players and employees," said Esche. "So is the ability to allow players to reach their dreams after years of hard work to get this close [to the NHL]."
The NHL has recently said it is targeting the beginning of January to start its 2020-21 season.
The Comets last played a game on March 11 before this past season was put on hold and subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic.
A February start to this upcoming season would mark an 11-month layover.
Stay with NEWSChannel 2 for more updates as this story continues to develop.