Patrick Johnston: Pandemic causing major problems for cash-strapped minor hockey league teams

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Canucks assistant general manager Chris Gear said Friday that while much remains in flux in planning for the NHL and AHL seasons, the team’s position on how to handle the Comets remains unchanged from what he told Postmedia News a month ago: they’d prefer to have five or six players based in Vancouver who are technically assigned to the Comets, but allowed to practise and train with the Canucks.

Both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, whose AHL affiliates are also situated in the U.S., are hoping for the same, he said.

“Then the balance of our prospects and other AHL players would stay in Utica and play against the other northeast AHL teams, where they can travel by bus relatively easily. Remains to be seen if the leagues agree and this all unfolds,” Gear said.

The Comets and their AHL rivals hope to start play in February. The ECHL, one tier below the AHL, has 13 teams starting play next month, with more — how many is still to be determined — hoping to hit the ice in January.

This uncertainty is leaving hundreds of players in the lurch. Most aren’t as fortunate as Hoglander, Silovs, Michaelis and Jasek. Most players in the AHL and ECHL make a pittance. They’re not in it for the money, they’re doing it because they love to play.

“My head’s all over the place,” Larry Landon, the executive director of…

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