ECHL players who lost their paychecks with the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 season – including the Kansas City Mavericks – will get some assistance.
The ECHL and the Professional Hockey Players Association (PHPA) announced Wednesday the development of a relief fund to assist ECHL players and their families suffering financial hardship following the cancellation of the rest of the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The joint effort – through contributions from the league, community and hockey world – will raise funds for those players most in need during the hiatus.
The PHPA Executive Committee approved an initial $200,000 contribution to the fund, while the ECHL and sponsors are expected to host various auctions and make additional contributions in the coming weeks. ECHL alum Paul Bissonnette, a former NHL player with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Phoenix Coyotes, advocated for the campaign on a recent episode of his popular “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast.
“From the onset of the reality to determine to cancel the 2019-20 season, we knew that all parties would need to work together to get through this pandemic,” ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin said in a statement. “The creation of this fund is one of the next steps in coming together to help our players that are in the most need at this time.”
When rest of the season and playoffs were canceled on March 16, the 600-plus players were advised to return to their permanent homes, with many losing the chance to earn additional salary and playoff bonuses.
The ECHL also extended health insurance for players and their families through June 30. The ECHL-PHPA COVID-19 Relief Fund will be administered by directors from both organizations to ensure funds are disbursed to players accordingly.
“The support already received from the hockey community has been very encouraging and will go a long way in helping the players,” said PHPA Executive Director Larry Landon. “There are many players who are married and have children and will need financial support, while others rely on supplemental income from teaching hockey schools during the offseason, which have now effectively been canceled. These players are positively ingrained within the communities in which they play, give back countless hours of their time to help advance community and charitable causes throughout the season, and now may need some assistance during these uncertain times.”