The East Coast Hockey League, one of only two minor leagues recognized by the NHL in the collective bargaining agreement, canceled its season on Saturday night in a statement posted on its website.
“The decision does not come lightly, as this is an emotional time for our players, coaches, member teams, fans and staff,” commissioner Ryan Crelin said. “At this point in the season, there has been immense dedication and countless hours committed in moving towards what is traditionally the most exciting part of the hockey year.
“With that said, however, as each passing day raises additional concerns for the safety of those in the ECHL community — and as we take precautionary measures in conjunction with our local authorities across the continent to prevent the spread of the coronavirus — it has become apparent that this is the prudent decision.”
The ECHL, considered one tier below the American Hockey League, has 26 teams, and it is headquartered in Princeton, N.J. The South Carolina Stingrays and Florida Everblades, with 92 points, finished as the regular season’s top two teams.
“Our game and our product are based on our fans and their ability to cheer on their favorite ECHL team and players at one of our many facilities,” Crelin said. “Without that social environment and game atmosphere, the ECHL simply isn’t the same.”