ECHL optimistic that 2020-21 season will happen, but could be delayed

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Rapid City Rush could be playing deep into next summer if the ECHL is forced to postpone the start of the 2020-21 season.

The ECHL suspended play on March 12 and canceled the rest of the season on March 14.

League commissioner Ryan Crelin is optimistic there will be hockey in 2020-21, but what the upcoming season will look like remains to be determined.

The ECHL’s Board of Governors plan to hold meetings this summer on July 15 and 31 and August 31.

During those meetings, they hope to develop a plan and lay the groundwork for a 72-game season.

“We’re continuing to stay on the same page across the Board of Governors,” Rapid City Rush President Todd Mackin said. “The interesting part about this is we have a lot of different markets with a lot of different environments and situations going on with the pandemic. So as we look across the board, everybody has their own agenda. Their own situation. So we have to come together as a league and find a time that works best for us.”

The Rapid City Rush have released the home portion of their schedule and their first game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is set for October 23.

But right now, the NHL is targeting December 1 as the start of the 2020-21 season.

Since the ECHL teams are affiliated with NHL teams and help develop prospects, the league is considering countless scenarios for next year which includes delaying the start of the season.

“They have made it known that they plan on playing an entire season next year and so do we,” Mackin said. “So as we continue to work through this, I think its very smart of us to stay in align with them. That being said, I know that our league is still planning on operating and playing on October 15 as of right now. If we don’t and we end up pushing back, we will certainly let everybody our fan base and everyone know what the plan is moving forward.”

Mackin said the ECHL is also discussing holding mini tournaments in the pre-season and Rapid City is one one the choices as a possible host site for one of those tournaments.

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