Last Week around the Leagues
by Fran Stuchbury
January 12, 2021 - Frontier League (FL)
This past week the American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield Thunderbirds elected not to play this season due to COVID-19; The NBA G League's Santa Cruz Warriors signed 10-year NBA veteran point guard Jeremy Lin; the Tri-City ValleyCats joined the Frontier League; and North Carolina FC moved from United Soccer League Championship to United Soccer League One. Highlights from this week are from American Hockey League, ECHL, North American Hockey League, Western Hockey League, NBA G League, Indoor Football League, Major League Soccer, Major League Lacrosse, Premier Lacrosse League, Major League Rugby and World TeamTennis.
American Hockey League
American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson announced that the 2020-21 season will include 28 teams when it gets underway on February 5. The AHL will operate in five divisions this season. Further details, including schedule formats and playoffs, are still to be determined. Four teams have been granted provisional relocations for the 2020-21 season: the Binghamton Devils will play in Newark, N.J.; the Ontario Reign will play in El Segundo, Calif.; the Providence Bruins will play in Marlborough, Mass.; and the San Diego Gulls will play in Irvine, Calif. The Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield Thunderbirds have elected to opt out of play for the 2020-21 season. All three teams will return to play in 2021-22.
The Charlotte Checkers announced that they will not participate in the 2020-21 American Hockey League season that is set to begin on Feb. 5. The decision, which was made in conjunction with their NHL affiliate, the Florida Panthers, is based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the organization to turn its full focus towards the 2021-22 season.
The Charlotte Checkers opted out of the 2021 AHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Team executive Paul Branecky explains the team's decision.
Milwaukee Admirals Owner/CEO Harris Turer announced that the team has opted out of the 2020-21 American Hockey League season due to the financial and related implications caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Yes, they are the AHL champs. But for Milwaukee Admirals owner Harris Turer and Team President Jon Greenberg, last year's shutdown was more difficult than this one.
The Springfield Thunderbirds announced that they are one of three AHL franchises that have elected to opt out of play for the upcoming 2020-2021 season. The decision, made in conjunction with their NHL Affiliate, the St. Louis Blues, was based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the organization to turn its full focus towards the 2021-22 season.
Springfield Thunderbirds cancel 2020-2021 season. This comes after the team was scheduled to play next month and now local businesses are disappointed.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have partnered with the Florida Panthers to offer use of American Hockey League affiliate Syracuse Crunch for the 2020-21 season, Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois and Panthers General Manager Bill Zito jointly announced. As part of the partnership, the Panthers will have the ability to assign players to the Crunch to train, practice and play. Florida's AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers opted out of the 2020-21 season following safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chicago Wolves announced they have reached an agreement with the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes on a partnership for the 2020-21 American Hockey League season. The Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville's long-time AHL affiliate, announced it will not participate in the upcoming season slated to begin Feb. 5. The Wolves' one-year affiliation with Nashville allows the Predators to loan Chicago players who normally would suit up for Milwaukee. The Wolves entered a three-year partnership with Carolina on Sept. 10, 2020.
Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning and St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations/General Manager Doug Armstrong announced that the Canucks and Blues will share the Utica Comets as an American Hockey League affiliate during the 2020-21 season.
The Toledo Walleye announced that the team has chosen to opt out of competition for the 2020-21 season as part of the ECHL's Pandemic Voluntary Suspension. The Walleye will return for the team's 12th season in 2021-22 at the Huntington Center. Toledo now joins 11 ECHL teams who have opted out of the 2020-21 season- the six teams in the North Division: Adirondack, Brampton, Maine, Newfoundland, Reading and Worcester, plus Atlanta, Cincinnati, Idaho, Kalamazoo, and Norfolk.
Toledo Walleye Opt-Out of 2021 Season, Forward Kyle Bonis Retires
The Fort Wayne Komets announced that the team will return to play the weekend of February 12th for a fifty-game regular season. The start of training camp has yet to be determined with a regular season schedule to be released at a later date. The team also announced that forwards Justin Vaive, Anthony Nellis, and Austin McIlmurray have agreed to terms for the upcoming season.
The Fort Wayne Komets announced that the team will return to play the weekend of Feb. 12 for a fifty-game regular season.
ECHL Plays of the Week
North American Hockey League
NAHL Plays of the Week
Western Hockey League
The Western Hockey League announced the WHL Board of Governors have made a commitment to play a WHL 2020-21 Regular Season. The start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the Health Authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon. All models and schedule formats are being considered by the WHL to ensure a WHL season is provided for the players. The 2020-21 WHL Regular Season will consist of 24 games.
Western Hockey League commits to 2020-21 season
NBA G League
The NBA G League announced that 18 teams, including 17 NBA G League teams and G League Ignite, will take to the court in February at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. The top eight teams will advance to a single-elimination playoff. NBA teams without an NBA G League affiliate participating in Orlando will have the opportunity to assign roster players and transfer Two-Way players using the league's flexible assignment and Two-Way rules.
Fort Wayne Mad Ants to play in NBA G League season at Disney.
The Grand Rapids Drive announced that they will opt out of the NBA G League's 2020-21 season. The 2020-21 season would have been the team's final year as an affiliate of the Detroit Pistons, following the Pistons recent purchase of Phoenix's G League franchise last year. The Drive will now turn their attention to the 2021-22 season, which is expected to include a new affiliate announcement.
Santa Cruz Warriors have added Jeremy Lin for the 2020-21 NBA G League season through the new NBA Veteran exception rule, the team announced. The new rule for the 2020-21 season allows teams to designate one NBA Veteran Selection to join a team's 10-man roster. Lin, 32, began his NBA career with the Golden State Warriors after going unselected in the 2010 NBA Draft. The veteran point guard averaged 11.6 points and 4.3 assists in 480 games in the NBA from 2010 to 2019.
Jeremy Lin is OFFICIALLY Back. Will he Make it Out of the G League?
Ignite shooting guard Jalen Green - Part One
Ignite shooting guard Jalen Green - Part Two
Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who guided the 1970 Spokane Indians to a Pacific Coast League championship and later won a pair of World Series titles with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has died. He was 93 years old.
The Tri-City ValleyCats organization is excited to announce that it has reached an agreement to become the 16th member of the Frontier League, the largest and longest running independent professional baseball league. They were part of Class-A New York-Penn League since the 2002. The Frontier League is an official Partner League of Major League Baseball and annually moves the most players into Major League Baseball organizations from any independent league.
The Washington Wild Things announced that manager Gregg Langbehn has decided to retire from professional baseball, which completes his tenure with the team that began in 2016. Langbehn retires as the second-most tenured manager in organization history by games managed and second winningest manager in team history behind John Massarelli.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks, new Advanced-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, announced Vince Bulik as the team's new general manager. Bulik most recently led ticket operations for New York Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He previously held management positions for the Baltimore Orioles' minor league affiliate Aberdeen Ironbirds, New York Mets' minor league affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones and the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football team.
Former St. Louis BattleHawks quarterback Taylor Heinicke started for the Washington Redskins in their 31-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Wild Card Round. He passed for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception and rushed for 46 yards with one touchdown.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed former DC Defenders quarterback Tyree Jackson to a futures deal and will move him to tight end. Jackson is 6 foot 7, 250 pounds and played college football at Buffalo.
Canadian Football League
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are pleased to announce that quarterback Cody Fajardo has signed a contract extension to stay in the Green and White through the 2022 season. Fajardo (6'2-215lbs) had a breakout season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019 that saw him named a CFL All-Star and become the West Division nominee for Most Outstanding Player.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers today announce the club has agreed to terms with quarterback Zach Collaros on a restructured contract. Signed to a two-year extension in late January a year ago, Collaros agreed to this restructuring as part of his commitment to the Bombers for the 2021 season.
Indoor Football League
Bismarck Bucks' HC Rod Miller met with the IFL's Fred Shaffer and voiced his anticipation for the upcoming 2021 season. Miller has high hopes for the new additions to his roster as well as his returning vets. He discusses the Bucks' first game of the season facing off against the Massachusetts Pirates, as well as the scheduled four (that's right, FOUR) matchups against the Sioux Falls Storm.
Major League Soccer
Inter Miami CF announced that the Club and Manager Diego Alonso have mutually agreed to part ways. Inter Miami finished with a regular season record of seven wins, three draws and 13 losses, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Club was eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs on Nov. 20, 2020.
Which Young Players Shined in 2020?
United Soccer League One
The United Soccer League announced today that North Carolina FC will join USL League One. The shift from playing in United Soccer League Championship to United Soccer League One, provides the largest youth-to-professional soccer organization in the United States the opportunity to enhance its youth development pathway. The Richmond Kickers and the Greenville Triumph will be the closest teams geographically to North Carolina FC and Cary, NC. The established regional rivalry between the Kickers and NCFC is well-known, while new rivalries emerge with the Greenville Triumph SC , South Georgia Tormenta FC, and Chattanooga Red Wolves SC.
Major League Lacrosse
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Premier Lacrosse League
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Major League Rugby
Major League Rugby biggest hits of the 2020 season
This video features the top 10 plays from the Philadelphia Freedoms 2020 World TeamTennis season.
Did we miss anything newsworthy or downright fun? Have a nomination for next week's column? Contact us today and let us know.
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Frontier League Stories from January 12, 2021
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- Last Week around the Leagues - OSC Original by Fran Stuchbury
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