TOLEDO, Ohio — The ECHL Board of Governors, along with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, have signed off on the opportunity for the Toledo Walleye and Fort Wayne Komets to participate in the 2020-21 ECHL season beginning in February 2021.
The ECHL also announced Monday that the Cincinnati Cyclones, Idaho Steelheads and Kalamazoo Wings are suspending play for the 2020-21 ECHL season under the league's policy for COVID-19. All teams are set to return in the 2021-22 ECHL season.
"We are grateful to be given the opportunity to play and understand this season will be like no other," said Walleye Head Coach Dan Watson. "During this time I will continue to work with the ECHL to ensure our return to the Huntington Center is done with the utmost adherence to the health and safety protocols necessary for our team's well-being."
"Since March, the Walleye have worked tirelessly with the Lucas County Health Department and the State of Ohio to get hockey back to the Huntington Center," said Neil Neukam, Walleye executive vice president and general manager. "As we continue to do so, we’re appreciative of the ECHL Board of Governors and the PHPA to allow for additional time to plan and execute a 2020-21 season for the Walleye and our fans in a safe and responsible manner."
Season ticket holders for the Toledo Walleye have been offered the ability to pause their membership for this season and any payments made will be applied to 2021-22. According to Monday's email following the announcement, ticket holders will be allowed to keep their seats, ticket price and status for the 2021-22 season. "FINatics" can contact their ticket representative or follow this link for more information.
Under the terms of the ECHL/PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, all players who have signed ECHL contracts with Cincinnati, Idaho and Kalamazoo are free agents for the 2020-21 season immediately.
"This decision for our clubs was immensely difficult amidst the everchanging landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to return to play throughout our various jurisdictions. We look forward to returning fans and ECHL hockey in these great markets as they shift their focus to the 2021-22 season," said Ryan Crelin, ECHL commissioner.