Checkers will not play 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 challenges

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Checkers announced Monday that the team will not play in the 2020-2021 American Hockey League season set to begin on Feb. 5. The team, along with its NHL affiliate, the Florida Panthers, made the decision based on safety and logistical reasons related to COVID-19.

“While we are disappointed that we cannot resume playing at this time, both the Panthers and Checkers feel it is in the best interests of all parties to opt out for this season,” said Michael Kahn, Checkers owner and CEO.

“There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future. We are appreciative of our partnership with the Florida Panthers regarding the navigation of this very difficult matter and will immediately focus our efforts on beginning the 2021-22 season in the fall.”

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Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito said the decision will not impact the player development system and the organization looks forward to continuing its partnership with the Checkers.

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The Checkers will directly reach out to season ticket holders via phone within the next 48 hours to discuss options moving forward.

Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield Thunderbirds also opted out and will return in 2021-22.