The American Hockey League canceled its season and its Calder Cup playoffs Monday because of coronavirus concerns, but its decision will not have an effect on the NHL’s desire to continue playing in the near future.

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, said the AHL’s announcement will have “no impact” on his league.

“We remain fully engaged in evaluating resumption-of-play options,” Daly said in an email to The Inquirer. “The two leagues don’t rely on the same business model – what might make sense for us doesn’t necessarily make sense for them.”

The NHL is hoping to resume its season, which was suspended March 12, and play games without fans. It stands to make millions from TV deals.

The AHL, the top development league for the NHL, has turned its focus toward preparing for the 2020-21 season, AHL president David Andrews said. He added that he was grateful to the NHL and its teams for the “support and leadership” in navigating through the last two months.

Andrews said the AHL “continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff, and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21."

This is the first time since the AHL was formed in 1936-37 that the Calder Cup will not be awarded.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, finished seventh in the eight-team Atlantic Division with a 24-28-10 record.

With forwards Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick among several Flyers sidelined during the season, many Phantoms players were recalled throughout 2019-20.

“There was constant movement of players during the season,” Phantoms coach Scott Gordon said in a phone interview from his Atlanta home Monday. “If you factor in the amount of injuries the Flyers had and we had, it was [very high]. At one time, we had 11 players [missing] – nine were injured and two were called up” to the Flyers. “We had a revolving door, especially at center this year.”

Gordon called center Misha Vorobyev (12 goals, 28 points in 45 games) the Phantoms’ most consistent player, and said center Morgan Frost (13 goals, 29 points in 41 games) was, by far, the team’s most skilled player.

He also had lots of praise for defenseman Mark Friedman, saying he was “close to turning the corner and being an NHL player.”

All three players had brief stints with the Flyers this season.

Flyers defenseman Mark Friedman on the ice against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 11.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Flyers defenseman Mark Friedman on the ice against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 11.

Frost, who turns 21 on Thursday, said he has been told to stay ready in case the NHL season resumes and each team is allowed to have AHL players in reserve.

“They haven’t told me anything specifically,” Frost said Monday from his home in Ontario. “I just try to stay in shape, and obviously if that were to be the case, it would be an unbelievable experience. I’d love to be back for it.”

Frost’s mother is a personal trainer, and she brought some equipment home from her gym so her son could work out.

Gordon said that because of all the Phantoms’ injuries this season, one of the “positives to come out of it was that a lot of players that weren’t as high on the depth charge were able to get more playing time and make progress. The experience those players got was immeasurable.”