CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The AHL made it official on Monday as they ended their season due to the pandemic which ended the chance for the Charlotte Checkers to defend the Calder Cup.
Not the way the team wanted this season to end, but an even bigger disappointment was not having the chance to salute the people who support them every night on the ice.
“The abruptness of not being able to say a proper goodbye to our fans is what’s most disappointing," said Charlotte Checkers vice president of marketing and communications Paul Branecky. “But at the end of the day, it’s a small inconvenience compared to what’s happening all over the world.”
With only 6 games remaining on the home schedule, the team has already begun the process of refunding tickets that were purchased. If the season were still going on right now, the league would be a month into the playoffs and the Checkers had a good chance to be a major factor in them.
After starting the season a disappointing 8-9-3 and no where near the playoffs, the Checkers finally got their act together in December. With new head coach Ryan Warsofsky and a roster with a bunch of new faces, the Checkers got red hot in December going 8-4. They started 2020 with an 8-1 record. Their final 2 games before the stoppage of the season, Charlotte won both. As of that final game on March 11th, the Checkers were 3rd in the Atlantic Division which would have put them in the playoffs.
“I think we all felt good about the way we had pieced things together and we were going to make a run in the playoffs, but we are not going to see how things would have turned out at the end of the day," said Branecky.
But if there is a silver lining...
“We do get to say that we are defending champions.”
For the first time in the 82 year history of the Calder Cup, it was not given to the champion of the league after the playoffs. Not even World War II stopped this annual tradition-- it took a pandemic.
The big question now is will the Checkers have the chance to defend the Cup next season?
“Being a fall sport, we have the ability to kind of see what some other sports and teams and leagues are doing with them trying to come back. We have the ability to watch and learn and that’s pretty nice. We are prepared to come back in October like we always do. We are looking at what it might look like if we come back later. So we are just doing a lot of planning and finding out what that’s going to look like.”