The Toledo Walleye announced today that the team has chosen to opt out of competition for the 2020-21 season as part of the ECHL's COVID-19 Voluntary Suspension. The Walleye will return for the team’s 12th season at the Huntington Center in 2021-22.
In November, the ECHL Board of Governors in conjunction with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association approved a February start for Toledo and Fort Wayne. Toledo now joins eleven ECHL teams who have opted out of the 2020-21 season; the six teams in the North Division (Adirondack, Brampton, Maine, Newfoundland, Reading, and Worcester), plus Atlanta, Cincinnati, Idaho, Kalamazoo, and Norfolk.
“We are grateful to the member teams of the ECHL who gave us the opportunity to push the start of our season to February. We had hoped the extra time would be enough for the vaccine distribution to begin to take hold and to loosen the COVID-19 attendance restriction for indoor arenas to the point where we could safely play a significant portion of the 2020-21 season in front of fans. Unlike Major League sports that enjoy the benefit of national and international TV and streaming media rights contracts, the Walleye’s financial stability is dependent upon attendance and the generosity of local sponsors. After much discussion, we have decided to turn our focus to a safe, healthy and successful 2021-22 season. We are heartbroken for our fans, our players, our employees and the downtown Toledo neighborhood that depends upon the success of the Walleye.”
Joe Napoli, Walleye President & CEO
“It’s hard to put into words the disappointment we are feeling today. COVID-19 has impacted all of us in so many ways. We had anticipated another exciting season for our fans, in spite of the challenges. Coach Watson had assembled a roster that held the promise of winning a championship and bringing the Kelly Cup home to Toledo. We remain committed to our fans, community and corporate partners, and the entire Toledo region and we look forward to celebrating T-Town Hockey in October.”
Neil Neukam, Walleye Executive Vice President & General Manager
“Today stings for all of us. FINatics, I very much appreciate your unwavering excitement and incredible support. The welcoming enthusiasm you showed for our assembled team did not go unnoticed by me or the guys. I want to personally thank our players who have patiently awaited the start of the season. My goal now is to help them find another team to play for this season, with the hope that when we return to the ice in 2021-22 many will be back wearing a Walleye jersey."
Dan Watson, Walleye Head Coach
FINatics will receive communications from one of our Ticket Consultants in the upcoming weeks to discuss their individual plans.