Montreal Canadiens: The AHL Officially Cancels Remainder of Laval Rocket Season

LAVAL, QC - DECEMBER 28: Laval Rocket. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
LAVAL, QC - DECEMBER 28: Laval Rocket. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens season remains in limbo, but the American Hockey League made it official today that their season is over.

The Montreal Canadiens season could return in the future. We don’t know what it will look like, or when it will happen, but it is possible we see the Habs on the ice again. There could be a 24-team playoff that includes the Canadiens. We might even see the NHL try and play out the remainder of the regular season before a typical 16-team playoff.

However, it became official this morning that the American Hockey League will not conclude their 2019-20 calendar. The league made it official after weeks of speculation that it made little sense for them to return to action.

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc around the world on the sports schedule. With it unsafe to bring thousands of fans into a building to watch a hockey game in the near future, it was impossible for the AHL to complete its season.

The AHL makes most of its profits off selling tickets and merchandise to games. Their television revenue is not significant, so without fans in the buildings they simply could not turn a profit. The NHL could run its postseason without selling a ticket to the game and still make tons of money off of television advertisements.

The league had met on Friday for a brief period of time and it was widely viewed that it was a courtesy call to let the teams know the league was finished for the season.

This move makes sense for the league financially, but is unfortunate for a number of Rocket players. Laval had been playing well, going 7-2-1 in their last ten games before the league stopped playing games and were just four points outside the playoffs.

Cayden Primeau had taken the reins as the unquestioned number one starter when Charlie Lindgren was called up to the NHL roster, and he was playing his best hockey. It would have been nice to see the team try and chase down a playoff berth over the final 14 games of the regular season.

We were also days away from seeing prospect Jesse Ylonen make his North American hockey debut. He signed with the Canadiens following his season in Finland. The second round pick from 2018 scored 12 goals and 22 points in 53 Liiga games with the low-scoring Lahti Pelicans.

Noah Juulsen had battled a severe concussion and vision problems that ensued for over a year. He was finally given a clean bill of health and returned to the Rocket lineup on March 11. He played just one game before the league pressed pause. With the announcement this morning, we know Juulsen won’t have a chance to work his way back to the NHL lineup this season.

Even backup goaltender Michael McNiven was finally given a full-time AHL roster spot after Keith Kinkaid was loaned to the Charlotte Checkers. The 22 year old netminder played well in his three appearances but won’t have an opportunity to finish the season.

It is way too early to label Kotkaniemi. dark. Next

It is the right decision by the AHL. It is just an unfortunate situation for their players and especially the young skaters that battled injuries or had just signed to start their pro career in North America. Hopefully, the league is able to run a full schedule next year.