The ECHL on Saturday canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 regular season and its playoffs because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"The decision by the ECHL to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season does not come lightly, as this is an emotional time for our players, coaches, member teams, fans and staff," ECHL commissioner Ryan Crelin said in a statement. "As each passing day raises additional concerns for the safety of those in the ECHL community and as we take precautionary measures in conjunction with our local authorities across the continent to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it has become apparent that this is the prudent decision."
Crelin added that the decision allows the players to return home and remove any uncertainty around the season.
The news comes after the NHL and AHL announced Thursday that they were suspending their 2019-20 seasons.
Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported Saturday that the AHL season might also be in jeopardy.
In addition to @FriedgeHNIC report on ECHL cancelling its season, word around the American Hockey League is that a potential return won't mirror what happens with the NHL. Too many different variables, including travel and revenue. They're facing a big challenge.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 15, 2020
TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported that NHL teams were told Saturday to make sure to pay their AHL players.
Notable item from today’s NHL call with GMs: the league instructed teams to make sure to pay all their AHL players through the season suspension. Same as instructed yesterday in terms of paying NHL players.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 14, 2020
The ECHL was nearing the conclusion of its 72-game regular season. The Newfoundland Growlers were the defending Kelly Cup champions.