Blues’ new Springfield affiliate opts out of 2020-21 AHL season

The St. Louis Blues’ first season with Springfield as their American Hockey League affiliate will have to wait a year.

The Springfield Thunderbirds announced Monday that they will opt out of the 2020-21 season “based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The club plans to return to play next season.

Doug Armstrong, the Blues’ president of hockey operations/general manager, said the team’s prospects will work with Utica, the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate.

“All professional sports have been impacted by the inability to open arenas and facilities to their fans,” Armstrong said. “That is particularly true at the minor professional level, where fan attendance is the lifeblood of business operations. We look forward to working with Springfield in the 2021-22 season. In the meantime, we have reached a working agreement with Utica, where our prospects will continue to develop for the 2020-21 season.”

Two other AHL teams, the Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers affiliate) and Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators), also opted out of this season.