With every team back in action for next season (including us!) the AHL announced some changes to the schedule format today.
The full breakdown of everything can be found here. If you find it to be a little confusing at first, we decided to provide a little breakdown about what that means for us.
In terms of divisional format, the Checkers are still in the Atlantic Division along with the same seven teams as in 2019-20 - the most recent "normal" season. So, no adjustment there. There will be changes to the playoff format coming later so keep an eye out for that (more teams will qualify), but for now the only significant change is to the schedule.
Over the last handful of seasons since the Pacific Division joined the AHL, there has been a discrepancy in the number of games played around the league. Most teams, including the Checkers, played 76, while those out west played 68.
The AHL is now moving toward a unified schedule of 72 games, but that will not be in place until 2022-23. For this coming season, the Pacific will still play 68, while all other teams have the option of selecting either 72 or 76.
Here in Charlotte, the Checkers will go straight to a 72-game schedule. With all of our home games made up of two-game clusters, the effect will likely just be one less Tuesday/Wednesday set. Don’t worry, you’ll still have opportunities to get your $1 beers.
In all cases, including if teams in the same division play a different number of games, the standings will be determined by points percentage. You might need to get your calculators handy for the stretch run, as the Atlantic Division has four teams playing 76 (Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) and four teams playing 72 (Bridgeport, Charlotte, Hartford and Providence).