PRINCETON, N.J. (WFFT) —The ECHL and Professional Hockey Players’ Association have announced the development of a relief fund to assist ECHL players and their families suffering a financial hardship following the sudden and unexpected cancellation of the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By working with the hockey community and anyone willing to make a contribution, the joint effort will work to raise funds for those most in need during this unprecedented period.
The ECHL cancelled the 2019-20 season effective Monday, March 16, 2020, whereby over 600 players were advised to return to their home territory, many of them losing the opportunity to earn additional salary and playoff bonuses.
All players and their families will receive health insurance through June 30, however the unplanned cancellation of the season will affect certain players harder than others during these uncertain times.
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 off-season which have now effectively been cancelled. These players are positively engrained 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.”
“From the on-set 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,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “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.”
The PHPA Executive Committee has approved an initial $200,000 contribution by the PHPA towards 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 advocated for the campaign on a recent episode of his popular Spittin Chiclets podcast.
This resulted in CaniBrands, a next-generation CBD products company, being the first to pledge $10,000 towards the fund. In addition, CaniBrands is donating an additional 10% of sales from customers using the BIZ30 promo code and providing a 30% discount to everyone as another means to support the community.
“When we heard about the plight of ECHL players, our team immediately wanted to jump in and help. ‘Working better together’ is the way we often describe our products but that same motto has come to represent how we think of our relationship to the sports and fitness community, especially in uncertain times such as these,” said Chris Lord, CEO of CaniBrands. “We hope our donation will ease some of the stress facing ECHL players and we encourage others to donate to this very worthy cause.”
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Relief Fund may do so through this online campaign.