Bruins Minor-Pro Affiliate Done With Season After Virus Concerns Rise

( Photo Credit: Infinite Energy Center / Infiniteenergycenter.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Per CBC & Sportsnet reporter/writer Elliotte Friedman sent out a tweet below letting the hockey world that the ECHL would announce that the league is going to cancel the season on Monday. Minutes later the well informed Friedman updated the new that the cancelation of the 2019-20 was going to be within the hour and not on the upcoming Monday. Later in the series of tweets below, the ECHL did, in fact, announce that the regular season and playoffs are done for the remainder of the hockey year.

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This unfortunate news certainly came at a bad time when it comes to the Boston Bruins franchise as the Atlanta Gladiators are they’re “AA” minor-pro affiliate and feeder system to the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins which is Boston’s top minor-pro affiliate. The Gladiators have hovered around the bottom of the South Division standings but have played well before the ECHL cancelation to be in the mix of the 2020 Kelly Cup postseason. Before last night’s announcement, the Glads produced points in their last ten glams accompanied by an impressive 8-0-1-1 record good enough for 62 regular-season points just one point shy of tying the third-place Greenville Swamp Rabbits.

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As the 2019-20 season ended for Atlanta club they finish with a 29-28-2-2 record and when you look at the Eastern Conference postseason outlook they sit in the eighth position and would’ve qualified for a playoff spot unlike they did at the end of the 2018-19 campaign. Before this terrible virus seemingly took over the world, I believe with the way the Gladiators club was playing down the stretch the team could’ve earned more points to possibly reach the seventh position in the East with 11 games remaining.

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Some Gladiators players that were under contract and Providence Bruins property that deserve mentions this season offensively were longtime veteran forward Eric Neiley (24-31-55, 59GP) forward Samuel Asselin (26-26-52, 53GP) forward Tommy Marchin (21-27-48, 49GP) forward Scott Conway (17-16-33, 39GP) defenseman Joel Messner (8-29-37, 59GP) defenseman Zach Malatesta (14-20-34, 60GP). It was unfortunate that goaltender and Boston Bruins prospect Kyle Keyser wasn’t able to return to the Gladiators lineup as he was recently sent down to Atlanta presumably medical cleared to return to action after leaving the AHL Providence Bruins team he was with for several weeks getting back to game shape after a long absence with concussion problems.

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Bruins seventh-round prospect Pavel Shen who was struggling to get into games with Providence down the stretch was sent to Atlanta to keep his feet moving and would’ve added some offensive production at the lower level was unable to see any ice in Georgia due to the cancelation. With the top minor-pro affiliate in Providence in his AHL rookie season, the 20-year-old Russia native appeared in 35 games for the Bruins contributing 4-5-9 numbers. Shen was selected in the last round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and impressed at the 2018-19 World Junior Championship Tournament where he had 3-1-4 numbers in seven games.

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With the end of the ECHL 2019-20 campaign officially over it remains to be seen what’s to become of the higher up AHL and even higher NHL and their thoughts on the current hockey season. The ECHL is a feeder to the higher AHL franchises so in emergency situations and callups presumably won’t be there. If the AHL is next, well there goes your feeder league for the NHL if the same scenarios are to arise. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, and don’t have any solid proof, but the ECHL might be setting the bar here for further cancelations of hockey seasons. This is something I’m not exactly happy about as a diehard Boston Bruins fan and pure speculation on my part but it seems like it may be a trend. Also, with the ECHL and the no winner of the Kelly Cup, hearing the 2019-20 regular season accolades at the higher above leagues and just giving the Cups to the clubs with the most points is just an unsettling feeling with those winning by default scenarios.

Tough times no doubt moving forward and honestly hope things get worked out for the better. Sports aside, I hope all are safe and in well health as we continue this worldwide pandemic. As mentioned in a previous article we hope all our BNG readers and families/supporters stay vigilant throughout this process and if anything gets our beloved sport oh hockey back when it’s safe to do so.

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