Chairman Don Levin and the Wolves want the American Hockey League season to continue. But Levin has an idea about when he thinks it needs to restart.
“A lot of our teams want to play; they do want to play,” Levin told the Sun-Times. “The question is, can they play? If May 1 turns out to be a hard date, maybe we can. If it gets pushed any past that, I think probably not.”
Like the rest of the North American sports world, the Wolves and the AHL are waiting for their next steps. They’re watching to see how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out and whether it will dissipate enough to allow the season to come back. And if it does return, how it would look is uncertain.
The ECHL already has canceled its season. And on Monday, the AHL announced its indefinite suspension won’t be lifted before May.
In most cases, the criteria for games wouldn’t be complicated. It is now.
“Something that says groups can get together again,” Levin said. “That’s going to have to happen. Nobody knows when that’s going to happen.”
Unlike the NBA, Major League Baseball and NHL, AHL teams can’t rely on media-rights fees to help them avoid substantial losses through a period without games. The Wolves lost three games last weekend and are dropping at least five more home dates at Allstate Arena.
Levin didn’t say how much that hit the Wolves, but he admitted the three games were “a lot of money.”
“I haven’t looked at the economic impact, really, but that’s not really where I’m at right now,” Levin said. “I’m just worried about other people and the situation going on around here.”
For the Wolves, that means anybody who can is working remotely. The players have left, and Levin said AHL teams have been advised they can melt the ice in their buildings. As of Tuesday, however, the Wolves hadn’t.
The Wolves also are processing refunds for people who had bought tickets, but that’s not easy because of the circumstances.
“We’re just in a holding pattern,” Levin said. “We’ve got to get money back to people and groups that bought tickets. There’s a lot of things that have to happen. It’s going to take a little time getting organized. Frankly, we’re short-handed because we don’t want to have everybody working in the same area.”
There is also the business of hockey to attend to. For the Wolves, that means finalizing a new parent club for next year. Levin sounded excited about the future, though he didn’t divulge which teams he had spoken with about a potential partnership.
That, after all, isn’t the priority these days.
“Obviously, these people have other concerns at the moment,” Levin said. “Their NHL teams are down. Their buildings are down. You can’t call them and say, ‘Hey, do you want to talk about this right now?’ I don’t think it’s the most important thing on their minds.
“We’re just going to wait and see. That’s all we can do.”