FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2020
K-WINGS 2020-21 SEASON A GO, STARTING MID-JANUARY
ECHL’s Board of Governors agree on a plan for the upcoming season, as Kalamazoo will play 62 games from January to June.
KALAMAZOO, MI – The Kalamazoo Wings, proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, revealed the organization’s intentions to play the 2020-21 season Friday, following the ECHL’s announcement of a return-to-play plan.
The K-Wings will play a 62-game season, truncated from January 15-June 6 that includes 31 home games and 31 road games. While some ECHL teams have opted to play a 72-game schedule starting in December, the league will use teams’ winning percentage as the determining factor for securing a playoff spot.
“The Kalamazoo Wings elected to begin the 2020-21 season in January for several reasons. First, the safety of our fans, staff and players is first and foremost,” said K-Wings Governor and Director of Business Operations Toni Will. “The additional time allows for the State of Michigan to continue to make positive progress in the reduction of positive COVID-19 cases. We have been working with local health officials and following CDC protocol to accomplish this very important task for the coming season. Additionally, the timeline looks to align better with our opponents in the Central Division. Another factor considered was our affiliates and the potential commencement schedule of the Utica Comets and the Vancouver Canucks.”
As announced in the league’s press release, the Board of Governors’ main goal was to have as many teams within the 26-team league participate in the 2020-21 season. With a split-schedule format, 13 of the ECHL’s teams will begin their seasons in December, while 12 of the remaining teams will open in January. The K-Wings opted to start in the second group. One team elected to voluntarily suspend operations.
“The staff will be diligently working on the plan to safely accommodate our fans by creating seating arrangements that allow for six feet of social distancing, hand sanitizing stations and cashless purchasing, to name a few,” said Will. “Additionally, per the executive orders, masks will be required for all patrons in attendance, starting with the Home Opener in January 2021."
The K-Wings last played March 11 at Wings Event Center before the ECHL canceled the rest of the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs due to COVID-19. The 2020-21 season was originally scheduled to begin October 17, before the ECHL and Board of Governors agreed to delay the season with a targeted start of December 4. Today’s announcement puts a formal plan in place and timetable to return to play.
"I can't express enough how thrilled and excited we are to launch the 47th season of professional hockey in Kalamazoo,” said Will. “This season will certainly be unlike any other in our rich history. The community has been very patient and supportive of our journey to bring professional hockey back to Kalamazoo in the safest way possible and we will forever be grateful."
While the organization works on the best protocols and regulations to ensure the safety of the players, coaches, staff and fans, the next step will be to communicate those plans with the K-Wings season ticket holders and fans.
A complete 2020-21 regular season schedule will be released by the ECHL at a later date.
Media members are encouraged to contact K-Wings Director of Public Relations John Peterson with any further questions or to coordinate interviews with Governor and Director of Business Operations Toni Will.
The Kalamazoo Wings are a professional hockey team located in southwest Michigan that has been a staple in the Kalamazoo, MI professional sports landscape since 1974. The K-Wings compete in the ECHL and are the AA affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks. Kalamazoo plays their regular season home games at Wings Event Center.