A Few Random Devils News Bits

I hope everyone in the United States had a great 4th of July yesterday and any Canadians reading this had a nice Canada Day back on Wednesday!

I wanted to get some random things that were too short for their own posts rolled into one bigger news post, so here goes.

The Devils continued to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement when they announced this past Wednesday that they would be putting a BLM logo behind the nets on the ice surface of their practice rink. For now, it is only being done at the RWJBarnabas Hockey House – largely due to the fact that the Devils’ season at Prudential Center is over. We will see if they will be putting it on the Prudential Center ice surface for the 2020-21 season (should it be played) and beyond.

In a second news bite, Devils Insiders announced on Twitter, via the Twitter account Russian Prospects, that prospect “Nikita Popugaev has signed a tryout deal” with HC Dynamo Moscow of the KHL. Russian Prospects did say that apparently the Devils will retain the NHL rights to him until June 1, 2021.

This happens a lot with Russian players who opt to play at home in the KHL and it does do some good in giving them some seasoning before they eventually make their way to the NHL.

Nikita Gusev did something similar in that he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lighting, opted to stay in the KHL, and had his rights traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights ran into some cap trouble and ended up trading him to the Devils.

Similarly, Devils Insiders, in the same tweet, reported that Ludvig Larsson signed with Mora IK of the Swedish second tier pro league (the Allsvenskan). Devils Insiders mentioned that another Twitter user (Tracey Lake) had mentioned that neither players would be back with the Adirondack Thunder (the Devils’ ECHL affiliate).

In other Devils’ minor league affiliate news that I was not so quick on, the Binghamton Devils were approved for Phase 2 of reopening way back on June 1 according to their official website.

Their front offices were opened to help fans “via phone, email, and live chat.” As of that time – and I believe that they are still in this part of the phase of reopening – the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena remained closed to the general public.

On June 22, the team opened their offices to fans by appointment only. The visits to the third-floor offices for customers was one, through appointment only, two, required customers to wear a mask and, three, maintain social distancing. The team was still encouraging people to use live chat on their website, email or phone calls as a means of getting touch with the team should they have any questions, however.

And that wraps us up. Hopefully I am as caught up as I can be regarding news around the organization. The NHL teams that qualified for the play-in round/playoffs will be starting their next phase, which sees them open training camps. We should have something for you on that in the near future.

ECHL Cancels Rest of 2019-20 Season

Today, the ECHL became the first professional sports league to cancel their remaining season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league had previously suspended play on March 12.

The ECHL Board of Governors approved the cancelation Saturday according to a news article on the ECHL’s official website that served as a statement from ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin.

The decision to cancel the season came from the fact that they could not guarantee the safety of players, staff and the fans. As Crelin said: “Our game and our product are base on our Fans and their ability to cheer on their favorite ECHL team and Players at one of our many facilities around the continent. Without that social environment and game atmosphere, the ECHL simply isn’t the same.”

That passage in the article indicates that the league must have contemplated playing in front of empty arenas but felt it would not be feasible. That is pure speculation on my part, however.

Crelin continued: “On behalf of the ECHL, and our Board of Governors, we appreciate the Professional Hockey Players’ Association for their assistance during this unprecedented time and working as partners in hockey to reach this decision for the best interest of the ECHL and its Players. This decision allows our Players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists.”

The league announced that (should the pandemic clear by then) they will be playing a 2020-21 season.

This cancelation, as Crelin admitted, comes at a difficult time for the players. The playoffs were approaching and that is what hockey players in any league train all year for: the chance to win a championship. That has been denied them this year, but it is for the benefit of everyone associated with the league’s health.

The decision to cancel the season was made with in conjunction with “local authorities across the continent” according to Crelin.

The Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals, South Carolina Stingrays, Florida Everblades, Cincinnati Cyclones and Allen Americans has already clinched playoff positions at the time of the cancelation.

The Adirondack Thunder, the Devils’ affiliate, finished fifth in the North Division with a 22-28-8-5 record with 57 points. They were out of a playoff spot for the time being after 63 games played.

This is a bold move by the ECHL. Should things continue to get too out of control, we could be seeing this across the board. Let’s hope things get better soon so that we have some hockey to watch come playoff time.