AHL approves structural framework for Feb. 5 start date

American Hockey League president and CEO Scott Howson. (Jason Franson/CP)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The American Hockey League remains on course to start its season in early February.

What that actually looks like in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen.

AHL president and CEO Scott Howson said in a statement Wednesday the league's board of governors "has approved the structural framework" for a schedule slated to begin Feb. 5 -- the same target date announced in late October.

The NHL, which will have all seven of its Canadian teams play against each other in the same division because of border restrictions related to the pandemic, is scheduled to open its season Jan. 13.

All 31 clubs in the second-tier AHL are affiliated with NHL teams. The league has four franchises based in Canada -- the Manitoba Moose, Toronto Marlies, Belleville Senators and Laval Rocket.

According to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, the four Canadian clubs will face each other this season, pending government approvals.

The AHL, which relies heavily on ticket sales for revenue, didn't say how many of its teams plan to take part in the upcoming season.

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