The Montreal Canadiens are moving their AHL affiliate closer to home for the upcoming season.
The Laval Rocket announced Wednesday that they will be playing their home games out of the Bell Centre, home of the Canadiens, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The decision was taken following the recommendations of Public Health authorities to limit the transmission of COVID-19 as much as possible,” a team statement said. “The change is temporary and effective for the entire 2020-21 AHL season.”
The AHL announced it intends to return to play on Feb. 5 with three teams — the Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield Thunderbirds — opting out of playing. The four Canadian teams — the Rocket, Toronto Marlies, Manitoba Moose and Belville Senators — will play each other in a Canadian division.
As the most direct feeder league to the NHL, a large part of any AHL return-to-play plan was going to include rules for call-ups to the NHL. While those details aren’t fully known yet, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported recently that player movement would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and be subject to local health restrictions.
For that reason, the Canadiens’ decision to bring the Rocket in-house could help players avoid quarantine once the season starts and movement between the NHL and AHL roster is required.