Thursday afternoon, the American Hockey League suspended the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19, effective immediately. When contacted to get more details about the situation, Zack Fisch, Manager of Hershey Bears Media Relations and Broadcasting, offered to provide a few more details on the unique situation.
“Everything is up in the air but I’d say it will be a minimum of a couple of weeks, but it could be much more, and then there will be a lot of logistics that come into play to reschedule games,” said Fisch. “As soon as the government and league determines it is safe to play we’ll be back in action.
“A scenario that might be looked at is the season would end as of the current standings and then go right into the playoffs,” added Fisch. “That’s something I’ve heard for both the NHL and AHL.”
Another thing that will enter into any decision is that the player’s contracts end June 30 and free agency begins July 1.
“There is also whether the next season can or will start on time depending on how long this goes and what buildings are available,” Fisch said. “It all came up so fast because if you had called me at this time yesterday I would have definitely told you we’ll be playing the Friday and Saturday games.”
When questioned about what this means to the players as to whether they stay around or go home, Fisch replied, “As of now, the NHL said there will be no meetings or practices and the Bears are following that line of thinking, but the guys have been asked to stick around Hershey for now and wait for further instructions. Obviously, the foreign players can’t leave because of the travel ban they might not be able to get back.
“As of now, following the NHL decision, there will be no practices and I don’t believe they would be able to do their own sessions because if anyone was injured there would not be any medical personnel available,” added Fisch.
As far as fans and the tickets they may have already purchased, Fisch made reference to the release that came out earlier in the day as to what the procedure is.
“We don’t have all the answers,” Fisch said. “We’re hoping all the games will be played because we have a couple big promotions scheduled like the bobblehead giveaway and Hershey Park pass game.”
“I think they will try to follow the remaining games schedule,” added Fisch, “but that will be kind of difficult with the travel and different regulations like in Cleveland, where we still have to go, Ohio has rules on mass gatherings.”