Player Rights Retained for K-Wings Entering 2021-22 Season
PRINCETON, N.J. - The ECHL announced several updates Thursday from the Midseason Meeting of the league's Board of Governors, including a plan for player rights entering the 2021-22 season.
The Board of Governors and Pro Hockey Players' Association approved changes to the Player Reserve System for inactive members, given the unique circumstances of the current season. Thursday's announcement confirms that any player who originally signed with one of the teams not participating in 2020-21 shall have his player rights revert back to that team this off-season.
"This is a large step towards rejoining the ECHL next season, which starts in October," said K-Wings Governor and Director of Business Operations Toni Will. "The Board of Governors, ECHL and PHPA worked tirelessly to come to a win-win agreement for all parties. While we're not picking up exactly where we left off last March, we won't have to start over from scratch and we're better positioned to build a competitive team on the ice."
Kalamazoo and 11 other teams opted out of the 2020-21 ECHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players who originally signed with those teams became free agents and were free to sign with any of the 14 active teams.
Any player who originally signed with the K-Wings leading up to the current season will automatically revert back to Kalamazoo's Protected List this summer. This includes players such as Ian Edmondson (Rapid City), Jake Hildebrand (Florida) and Justin Taylor (Tulsa), among others who are playing elsewhere.
"We are very excited that the league and players union came to an agreement, which will allow us to extend qualifying offers to eight players," said K-Wings Head Coach Nick Bootland. "Our staff can now finalize our plan to prepare for the 2021-22 season."
The ECHL also announced the start date for the 2021-22 season. The regular season will begin Friday, Oct. 22 and run through Sunday, April 17, 2022. The K-Wings will announce further schedule information and Home Opener details at a later date.
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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