K-Wings Exercise COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension for 2020-21 Season
KALAMAZOO, MI - The Kalamazoo Wings, proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks, announced today the team is opting out of the 2020-21 season in conjunction with the league's COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension Policy.
Following similar announcements from Atlanta, Norfolk and all six North Division teams within the last two months, the K-Wings voted to suspend operations for the season, joined today by the Cincinnati Cyclones and Idaho Steelheads. That brings the total number of ECHL teams opting out to ten so far.
"After several months of planning, monitoring public health guidelines, and agreeing on an initial return-to-play date, this was an extremely difficult decision to make," said K-Wings Governor and Director of Business Operations Toni Will. "Our top priority has always been the health and safety of our fans, players, coaches and staff at Wings Event Center, and we determined it was in the best interest of our hockey community to sit out this season. We will immediately start planning for the 2021-22 season."
Kalamazoo and several other teams initially agreed to the ECHL's return-to-play plan that involved a split schedule. Half of the league's teams still plan to drop the puck this Friday. Most of the teams who initially opted for a Jan. 15, 2021 start date, including the K-Wings, have since elected to sit out the season.
"Today is a difficult day for all of us in the K-Wings organization, including our players, coaches, and front office staff members" said Head Coach Nick Bootland. "With the roster we put together, we were excited about our team's chances to compete for a Kelly Cup this season. Now we'll focus on building for 2021-22 and can't wait to see our great fans in the stands again when it is safe to return."
Under the terms of the ECHL/PHPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, players from the Kalamazoo Wings are free agents for the 2020-21 season, effective immediately.
"We will be communicating directly with our valued season ticket holders and corporate partners in the coming days, and want to thank all of our wonderful fans for their support during what has been a difficult year," said Will. "We can't wait to welcome everyone back to Wings Event Center when we drop the puck next October."
The Kalamazoo Wings are a professional hockey team located in southwest Michigan that has been a staple in the Kalamazoo, MI professional sports landscape since 1974. The K-Wings compete in the ECHL and are the AA affiliate of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks. Kalamazoo plays their regular season home games at Wings Event Center.
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