There was a bit of concern in the hockey community after the Trump administration put restrictions Monday on visas for non-citizens working in the U.S. Among the visas halted, probably through the end of year, were the H-2B visas for seasonal workers.
While there was a time when Fort Wayne players came to the U.S. on H-2B visas, Komets general manager David Franke explained tonight that the ECHL uses P-1 visas that apply to athletes. Those visas weren’t restricted, he said.
“That shouldn’t be an issue,” said Franke, who typically has players from Canada, Europe or Eurasia on his team.
“The bigger issue will be (determining) when the travel ban lifts.”
The ECHL held meetings virtually with its teams today, thought Franke wasn’t at liberty to disclose the goings on from that. The ECHL was expected to determine how long it can wait before making a decision on when, or if, next season can be started.
The Komets’ season is scheduled to begin Oct. 16 at Indianapolis, but that is contingent on health guidelines. If social distancing of 6 feet is still required, it seems clear teams like the Komets won’t be able to play because they could only get about 1,400 fans into 10,450-seat Memorial Coliseum.
The ECHL also must determine if can play, at least for awhile, without skaters on NHL or American Hockey League contracts, since those leagues likely won’t start until December or January.
Travel bans could also be a hindrance to getting non-American players and could prevent the Brampton Beast or Newfoundland Growlers, the ECHL’s two Canada-based teams, from competing in the league since traveling to and from the U.S. may be difficult or impossible amid COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The Komets have signed three players so far this season – Shawn Szydlowski, A.J. Jenks and Anthony Petruzzelli – but could have more player announcements this week.