The Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate for the Blackhawks, and the other 30 teams in the League won’t start play until at least Feb. 5, the AHL announced Wednesday.
In July, the AHL set a target start date of Dec. 4 but that has been pushed back two months and a day because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The date was the recommendation of the AHL’s Return to Play Task Force, which includes NHL executives and AHL officials.
The AHL normally starts its 76-game regular-season schedule in October. Of the AHL’s 31 teams, two are based in Illinois with the Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Wolves, who play at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. The Wolves were affiliated with the Golden Knights the past three seasons, but are now with the Hurricanes.
The AHL used the same wording from July to describe how it will monitor the pandemic moving forward, claiming it “continues to work with its member clubs to monitor developments and local guidelines in all 31 league cities. Further details regarding the 2020-21 American Hockey League schedule are still to be determined.”
The IceHogs went 29-30-2-2 in 63 games and were in fifth place in the Central Division (.492) by points percentage before the AHL suspended play March 12 due to the coronavirus. The AHL canceled the season May 11. It was Rockford’s first full season under head coach Derek King, who guided the IceHogs to a 29-28-3-4 record as the interim coach and fell short of the Calder Cup Playoffs after reaching the Western Conference Final in 2018.