Atlanta Gladiators voluntarily suspend season

Ryan Guley (right) and ice technician Bob Caswell paint red lines on the ice in 2011 at Gwinnett Arena, now known as Infinite Energy Arena. (Jason Getz/AJC file)
Ryan Guley (right) and ice technician Bob Caswell paint red lines on the ice in 2011 at Gwinnett Arena, now known as Infinite Energy Arena. (Jason Getz/AJC file)

Credit: Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

The Atlanta Gladiators, the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins, have chosen not to participate in the 2020-21 season under the ECHL’s COVID-19 voluntary-suspension policy.

The Gladiators play at Infinite Energy Arena in Gwinnett County and would have been allowed a capacity of only 25% at their games this season. But minor league hockey, and particularly the ECHL, is heavily dependent on ticket revenue to support their operations, so the Gladiators determined that it wouldn’t be financially feasible for them to play this season.

“This is a decision we do not make lightly,” Gladiators president Jerry James said in a release. “Everyone in our organization has pushed to find ways to make this season happen, but the economic viability of our business and the health of our community must be the priority. That is the bottom line for the decision to enact the league’s COVID-19 voluntary-suspension policy.”

Because the Gladiators won’t be playing, all of the players on their roster become free agents. That includes captain Derek Nesbitt, who was going into his second season as the captain in Atlanta and his 16th season of professional hockey.

The other 25 ECHL teams will play a split-season format beginning Dec. 11 for 13 teams and Jan. 15 for the remaining 12 teams.

The Gladiators plan to return to play in Atlanta for the 2021-22 season.

“We have been here for the last 17 years, a staple in this community,” James said in the release. “We’ll be here for the next 17 years.”

In Other News