The St. Louis Blues are hoping the NHL can start right after the new year. Their prospects will likely wait longer.
When things line up from a timing aspect, it is hard to feel as though you did not speak it into existence. Just days after talking about a disconnect between the NHL and AHL, we learned that the St. Louis Blues prospects will likely not lace up their skates in the AHL until at least February.
This is clearly a shift in the league’s thinking, with AHL owners hoping that there is some way they can get people in the stands by February. Just two days prior to this writing, Greg Wyshynski had an article talking about how the AHL’s tentative start date would be December 4.
That seemed rather ambitious given the fact so many markets have vastly different rules. The AHL, like so many minor leagues, is driven by attendance and ticket gate money. Not having people in the arenas at all just is not an option for them.
With this in mind, the Blues affiliate the Springfield Thunderbirds, will likely not start their season until February now. That’s at the earliest too.
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On the surface it seems odd for the AHL to start in February if the NHL honestly hopes it can start by early to mid-January. However, the AHL does typically start after the NHL drops the puck anyway.
So, this could be just a way for the leagues to sync up their rosters and schedules better. It could potentially signal that the NHL is not likely to hit their hopeful start date as well.
Maybe both leagues end up starting in February. There is just no way of knowing since some cities and states are trying to open up more and some are closing up more. Illinois just put tighter restrictions on indoor dining while Missouri has seen less people being restricted.
This makes it difficult to know how NHL teams will be affected, much less a team like the Thunderbirds. It also makes the idea of travel for call ups more difficult to manage since the situation in St. Louis could be completely different than that in Massachusetts.
One thing is for sure, if sports continue on, there just has to be some sort of AHL season. NHL teams, the Blues in particular, cannot have a lost year of growth for prospects.
You can send some to European leagues, as the Blues already have a couple players in Russia. There are only so many of those slots open since they have their own players to worry about.
It’s all a big mess. These dates will likely continue to change as winter comes along. We’ll keep you as up to date as possible.