SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League is set to return to action today for its 85th season of play, with the first puck dropping at 1 p.m. ET as the Providence Bruins face off against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The AHL has 28 teams active for the 2020-21 season, serving as the top development affiliates for all 31 National Hockey League clubs. With Charlotte, Milwaukee and Springfield electing to opt out of play for 2020-21, the Florida Panthers (Syracuse), Nashville Predators (Chicago) and St. Louis Blues (Utica) have entered into one-year partnerships with other AHL clubs.
This season also marks the debut of the Henderson Silver Knights, the top development team for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. The Silver Knights will be playing their home games at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas while construction continues on their new facility in Henderson, Nev.
During the 2019-20 season, 88.5 percent of all NHL players were graduates of the American Hockey League, including Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck, Norris Trophy recipient Roman Josi and Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl. The 2020 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning were stocked with AHL graduates, including Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, and former Calder Cup champions Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn.
There were 223 former first- and second-round NHL draft picks who skated in the AHL last season, including standouts like Filip Zadina, Evan Bouchard, Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett, Jack Studnicka, Josh Norris and Jake Bean. There were also 353 players who saw action in both the AHL and the NHL last season alone, a list that includes the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin, Anaheim’s Troy Terry, Dallas’s Joel Kiviranta and Montreal’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
In 2020-21, 23 NHL teams are being led by former AHL head coaches, among them reigning Stanley Cup champion Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jack Adams Award recipient Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins.
Five AHL head coaching vacancies have been filled since the end of last season.
Seth Appert is the new head coach of the Rochester Americans and John Wroblewski takes over the bench for the Ontario Reign; both come to the AHL off successful stints with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. J.D. Forrest has been elevated to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after four seasons as an assistant with the club; Manny Viveiros, a Calder Cup champion during his playing days, will coach the first-year Henderson Silver Knights; and Steve Potvin was named head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners following Jay Varady’s promotion to Arizona’s staff last month.
Texas’s Neil Graham and Toronto’s Greg Moore begin their first full seasons as AHL head coaches after taking over their respective benches midway through the 2019-20 campaign. And Roy Sommer has returned to the San Jose Barracuda after finishing last year as an associate coach with the NHL Sharks; Sommer, the AHL’s all-time leader in games coached (1,638) and victories (773), enters his 23rd season guiding the Sharks’ top development club.
AHLTV (AHLTV.com) returns with live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV. AHLTV is also available through the official AHL mobile app for iOS and Android.
Subscription packages range from $7.99 USD for a single day’s worth of games to just $44.99 USD for every game throughout the 2020-21 regular season.
The season on AHLTV officially kicks off with an Opening Weekend Freeview; all games from Feb. 5-8 are free to anyone with an AHLTV account (no purchase or subscription necessary).
The AHL’s positioning in social media also continues to grow, and the league’s feeds remain great sources for breaking AHL news, special offers, behind-the-scenes insights and fan interaction. The AHL has more than 100,000 fans on each of its Facebook (fb.com/theahl), Twitter (@TheAHL), and Instagram (theahl) feeds, and the AHL communications department also maintains a news feed on Twitter (@AHLPR).
The AHL’s digital properties are anchored by the league’s official website, theahl.com, which is fully compatible with desktop, mobile and tablet devices alike. In addition, the official AHL mobile app is available for free for iPhone and Android devices.
The 2020-21 AHL Guide & Record Book is available for viewing and download at theahl.com/publications. The AHL Rule Book can be found at theahl.com/rules.
At long last, it’s #AHLOpeningNight. 🏒 pic.twitter.com/yEYYf5RNrd
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) February 5, 2021
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives, broadcasters and staff of all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of NHL players each year are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.