KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A west Michigan hockey team has made the decision to voluntarily suspend its 2020/2021 season due to COVID-19.
Along with ten other teams in the league, the Kalamazoo Wings (K-Wings) made the decision to suspend operations for the season.
The K-Wings announced it on Monday alongside the Cincinatti Cyclones and the Idaho Steelheads.
"The decision to suspend the 2020/2021 K-Wings season was a very difficult decision," said the Kalamazoo Wings Business Operations Director and Governor Toni Will.
The decision was nine months in the making, according to Will.
The ECHL affiliate joined multiple other teams in exercising the league's COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension Policy.
"It has been proving difficult because of the jurisdictional restraints and the safety concern that ultimately led the Kalamazoo Wings to choose to suspend," said Will.
The decision came after similar announcements to suspend from Atlanta and Norfolk as well as all six teams in the Northern Division within the last two months.
"We were really holding out to see if we could come up with a creative solution or hold off to see if our states would open up in a way that allowed us to host fans, and it just didn’t seem that was going to be probable," said Will.
Players from the Kalamazoo Wings are now free agents for the season, effective immediately.
The K-Wings are looking forward to the 2021/2022 season when they're hopeful they'll be able to welcome fans back to the Wings Event Center.
"We have a lot of the planning done because of what we were going to do this season. We feel much more confident going into the fall that a lot of this will be behind us, and we will be able to move forward," said Will.
The announcement brings the total number of ECHL teams opting out so far to 10 with two pending.
13 other teams in the league will start their season this upcoming weekend.