Iowa Wild coach Tim Army remained optimistic for as long as he could.

As far as he was concerned, the American Hockey League (AHL) was going to resume the 2019-20 season at some point.

He wouldn’t let himself go down the other rabbit hole.

“It wasn’t like we were in summer mode,” Army said Monday. “We were in pause mode and getting ready to play coming out of it.”

His optimism waned over the past couple of weeks as the coronavirus pandemic continued to spread across the country — Iowa has seen a large spike in cases the past few weeks — and he started to get a sense that the 2019-20 season could in fact be in jeopardy.

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“You still hold out a little bit of hope,” Army said. “You have to do that until it’s official.”

It became official on Monday morning, May 11, when the AHL announced its decision to cancel the remainder of its regular season and Calder Cup playoffs following a vote by the league’s Board of Governors.

“After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions,” AHL president David Andrews said in a release, adding that the league has shifted its focus to preparing for the 2020-21 season.

“We understand and support the decision made today by the American Hockey League to cancel the remainder of the 2019-2020 season,” Iowa Wild president Todd Frederickson added. “On behalf of the entire organization, I’d like to thank our great fans for their unwavering support during these difficult times.”

It’s an extremely tough blow for the Iowa Wild, especially considering they were in position to make a serious run at the Calder Cup.

They were tied for the second-best record in the league when the AHL suspended operations in March. Gerald Mayhew was leading the league with 39 goals. Sam Anas was leading the league with 70 points. Kaapo Kahkonen was leading the league with 25 wins.

“It’s disappointing and disheartening for everyone because there will never be any closure,” Army said. “It will always feel unfinished because we won’t get the opportunity to pursue the Calder Cup. We felt we were as capable as anybody. It’s a really empty feeling right now.”

When Army conducts exit interviews with his players, he said, he’s going to remind them to focus on what made this season special, not that it ended abruptly.

“We don’t have control over the situation,” Army said. “It finished at 63 games and there’s nothing we can do about it. What we can do is look back on all the positives. There’s a lot to be proud of.”

Still, there are always going to be things that eat at Army when he looks back on the 2019-2020 season.

His biggest regret?

“We never got to take a team picture with the whole group,” Army said. “We won’t be able to put something on the wall and that hurts.”