Hershey set an AHL playoff record by scoring 35 powerplay goals during the 1997 Calder Cup playoffs. Furthermore, Game 2 of the Mid-Atlantic Division final between Hershey and Philadelphia set an AHL playoff record for the most penalty minutes in one game by both teams with 350 (Hershey, 179; Philadelphia, 171). In addition, Hershey's Jean-Francois Labbe set an AHL playoff record for goaltenders by playing in 23 games in one playoff.
After the 1996-97 AHL regular season, 16 teams qualified for the playoffs. The top four teams from each division qualified for the playoffs. However, due to the uneven number of teams in the each conference, it was possible for the fifth-placed team in the five team divisions to crossover to the playoffs for the four team divisions. This could only happen if the fifth-placed team in a five team division earned more points than the fourth-placed team in the four team division in the same conference. In this case, the fifth-placed team from the five team division would play in place of the fourth-placed team from the four team division in that part of the playoff bracket. The Philadelphia Phantoms were the Southern Conference regular season champions and also had the best overall regular season record. The Rochester Americans were the Northern Conference regular season champions.
In each round the team that earned more points during the regular season receives home ice advantage, meaning they receive the "extra" game on home-ice if the series reaches the maximum number of games. There is no set series format due to arena scheduling conflicts and travel considerations.