The ECHL has pushed back the start of its season and now anticipates a Dec. 4 start, following an agreement between the league's Board of Governors and the Professional Hockey Players' Association.
The league had previously planned to begin Oct. 16, when the Komets would have played at Indianapolis.
A new schedule will be released at a later time.
“The entire Komet organization is pleased to have more clarity on the start of the season,” Komets President Michael Franke said in a news release. “It is the intent of the ECHL to play an entire 72-game schedule, with the season moving deeper into the spring than would normally be the case. Getting Komet hockey back in a safe manner is our No. 1 goal. More exciting announcements regarding the (2020-21) Komet season will be forthcoming, as we are very excited about our roster makeup and are looking forward to compete for a Kelly Cup championship.”
There are myriad reasons for the delay, all related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and one of the biggest is the inability to get enough fans into buildings while maintaining social distancing guidelines. As an example, only 1,400 fans would be able to attend games at Memorial Coliseum, less than half of the Komets' base of season-ticket holders and well below the team's announced average attendance last season of 8,090, which led the ECHL.
“We are eager to return to hockey, but at this time we believe this decision is prudent for the safety of our players, employees and fans,” ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin said in a news release. “The ECHL and our Board of Governors are focused on the 2020-21 season and remain optimistic for the safe reopening of our venues across the continent. We appreciate our partners' and fans' continued support and patience, as we work together with our venues, local health officials and the members of the PHPA's executive committee towards the safe return of ECHL hockey.”
Other minor leagues, including the American and Southern Professional Hockey Leagues, had already delayed their seasons until December at least.