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American Hockey League

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American Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1936
No. of teams 30
Country(ies) Flag of the United States United States
Flag of Canada Canada
Most recent champion(s) Lake Erie Monsters (2015-16)
Official website

The American Hockey League (AHL) is a 30-team professional ice hockey league based primarily in the United States that serves as the primary developmental circuit for the National Hockey League (NHL). During the 2013-14 season, all of the 30 NHL teams have primary affiliation agreements with one of the AHL's active member clubs of which 26 are located in the United States and the remaining four are in Canada. The league offices are located in Springfield, Massachusetts, and its current president is David Andrews.

The annual playoff champion is awarded the Calder Cup, named for Frank Calder, the first President (1917–1943) of the NHL. The current champions are the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Formation and Growth of the AHLEdit

Predecessor Leagues (1926–1936)Edit

The AHL traces its origins directly to two predecessor professional leagues: the Canadian-American Hockey League (aka "Can-Am" League) founded in 1926, and the first International Hockey League established in 1929. Although the Can-Am League never operated with more than six teams, for the first time in its history it dropped after the 1935–36 season to just four member cities: Springfield, Philadelphia, Providence and New Haven. At the same time the then rival International Hockey League lost half of its eight members after the 1935–36 season leaving it as well with just four clubs located in Buffalo, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.

A "Circuit of Mutual Convenience" (1936–38)Edit

With both leagues down to the barest minimum in membership needed to operate, the governors of each recognized the necessity to take proactive steps to assure the long-term survival of their member clubs. To that end they all decided the logical solution to their common problem was for the two leagues to play an interlocking schedule with each other. Styled as the International-American Hockey League, the two older leagues' eight surviving clubs thus began joint play in November 1936, as a new two division "circuit of mutual convenience" with the four Can-Am teams constituting the I-AHL East Division and the IHL's quartet playing as the West Division. In addition, the IHL also contributed its former championship silver, the F. G. "Teddy" Oke Trophy, which would go to the regular season winners of the West Division in the new I-AHL until 1952. (The Oke Trophy is now awarded to the regular season winners of the AHL's current seven-team East Division.)

A little more than a month into that first season, however, the balance and symmetry of the new combined circuit suffered an early setback when its membership unexpectedly fell to seven as the West's Buffalo Bisons were forced to cease operations on December 6, 1936, after playing just eleven games because of what proved to be insurmountable financial problems and lack of access to a suitable arena. The makeshift new I-AHL thus played out the rest of its first season (as well as all of the next) with just seven teams.

A modified three-round playoff format was devised and a new championship trophy, the Calder Cup, was established which was awarded for the first time at the end of the 1936–37 season play-offs to the Syracuse Stars who defeated the Philadelphia Ramblers in the finals, three-games-to-one. Now second only to the Stanley Cup in both age and prestige among North American hockey's championship awards, the Calder Cup continues on today as the AHL's play-off trophy.

Formal Consolidation of the I-AHL (June 28, 1938)Edit

After two seasons of interlocking play, the governors of the two leagues' seven active teams met in New York City on June 28, 1938, and agreed that it was time to formally consolidate. Maurice Podoloff of New Haven, the former head of the C-AHL which had also been operating as the combined league's Eastern Division, was elected the I-AHL's first president. Former IHL president John Chick of Windsor, Ontario, and head of the I-AHL's Western Division, became vice-president in charge of officials.

The new I-AHL also added an eighth franchise at the 1938 meeting to fill the void in its membership left by the loss of Buffalo two years earlier with the admission of the then two-time defending EAHL champion Hershey Bears. (Almost seven decades later, Hershey remains the only one of these eight original I-AHL/AHL cities to have been represented in the league without interruption since the 1938–39 season.) Beginning with the 1938–39 season, the newly merged circuit also increased its regular season schedule for each team by six games from 48 to 54.

Contraction, Resurrection, and Expansion (1967–2001)Edit

The AHL (as it was renamed after the 1939–40 season) generally enjoyed both consistent success on the ice and relative financial stability over its first three decades of operation. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, the cost of doing business in pro hockey began to rise precipitously with the frequent expansions of the NHL in 1967, 1970, 1972, and 1974, and especially the advent in 1972 of the twelve-team World Hockey Association (WHA), increased the number of major league teams competing for players from six to thirty in just seven years. Player salaries at all levels shot up dramatically with the increased demand and competition for their services. To help compensate for this increased expense many NHL clubs cut way back on the number of players they kept under contract for development, and players under AHL contracts could now also demand much higher paychecks to remain with their clubs. As a result within a period of just three years from 1974 to 1977 half of the AHL's teams folded dropping the league from twelve clubs to just six. Making the AHL's situation even bleaker as the 1977–78 season approached was the news that the Providence Reds—the last surviving uninterrupted franchise from 1936–37—had decided to cease operations.

The AHL appeared in serious danger of folding altogether in another year or two if this dangerous downward trend were not reversed. As these clouds appeared their darkest, however, two events in the Fall of 1977 helped reverse the trend and began the league back to the great health it enjoys today. The first of these was the decision of the Philadelphia Flyers to return to the league as a team owner. The second was the unexpected collapse of the North American Hockey League just weeks before the start of the 1977–78 season.

The Flyers' new AHL franchise became the immediately successful Maine Mariners which brought the new AHL city of Portland, Maine both the regular season and Calder Cup play-off titles in each of that club's first two seasons of operation. The folding of the NAHL meanwhile left two of its member cities which wanted to continue to operate teams—Philadelphia and Binghamton—suddenly without a league to play in. Binghamton solved its problem by acquiring and moving the Reds' franchise from Providence and joined the league as the Binghamton Dusters (aka Broome Dusters). The Philadelphia Firebirds acquired an expansion franchise as did the new Hampton (VA) Gulls, to boost the AHL to nine member clubs as the 1977–78 season opened. (Hampton folded on February 10, 1978, but was replaced the next year by the New Brunswick Hawks.) The league continued to grow steadily over the years reaching 20 clubs by the 2000–01 season.

Absorption IHL teams (2001–02)Edit

In 2001–02 its membership jumped dramatically to 27 in 2001–02 mostly by absorbing six cities—Milwaukee, Chicago, Houston, Salt Lake City (as Utah), Winnipeg (as Manitoba), and Grand Rapids—from the International Hockey League when that long time rival circuit folded after fifty-six seasons of operation (1945–2001). The Utah Grizzlies suspended operations after the 2004–05 season (the franchise was sold in 2006 and returned to the ice in Cleveland in 2007 as the Lake Erie Monsters). The Chicago Wolves (2002, 2008), Houston Aeros (2003), and Milwaukee Admirals (2004) have each already won a Calder Cup playoff title since joining the AHL from the IHL. Chicago and Milwaukee have made multiple trips to the playoff finals since their inception into the league. One oddity caused by this expansion is that the league now has two teams with the same nickname: the Milwaukee Admirals and the Norfolk Admirals.

Major Realignment of franchises 2015-Edit

The league will be realigned with a major western shift as the western teams in the NHL have wanted to have their affiliates closer to their city as some players could take upwards of a day to a day and a half of travel to join the NHL teams on an emergency basis.  Some of the western NHL teams have kept up to two extra players with the NHL team in case of an emergency; causing the team a disadvantage of having to count extra players against the salary cap and not keeping two top line AHL level players from getting valuable game play conditioning and experience.

The Oklahoma City Barons announced in December, 2014 that they would be ceasing operations at the end of the 2014-15 AHL Season, as the Edmonton Oilers purchased the Bakersfield Condors franchise of the ECHL.

On January 29, 2015, the league held a press conference in San Jose, California announcing the formation of the Pacific Division with teams being located in Bakersfield (Edmonton), Ontario (Los Angeles), San Diego (Anaheim), San Jose (San Jose), and Stockton (Calgary).

The teams on the move are the Norfolk Admirals (affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks), Manchester Monarchs (affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings), Worcester Sharks (affiliate of the San Jose Sharks),  Adirondack Flames (affiliate of the Calgary Flames) plus the previously mentioned Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers).  Norfolk, Manchester, and Adirondack are scheduled to being the ECHL affiliates of their NHL organization. Oklahoma City and Worcester may end up as either AHL or ECHL affiliates to some other organization.  Oklahoma City had also been mentioned as a candidate for an NHL team (either by relocation or expansion).  Worcester best possibility for a team could end up with them being the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins as the Bruins have been part of a split affiliation (along with the Washington Capitals) with the South Carolina Stingrays.

On March 12,2015, the league's Board of Governors approved the purchase of the Hamilton Bulldogs franchise by the ownership of the Montreal Canadiens and 2 more franchise moves for the 2015-16 season.  The Winnipeg Jets have been involved with the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario in talks since early 2014 on the construction of a new arena to replace the city's aging Fort William Gardens.  The Jets were planning on moving their affiliation to Thunder Bay from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador when the arena opens (originally planned to be in either 2016 or 2017 however, the construction has not started and the Jets announced the move of their AHL affiliation to Winnipeg to share their home rink, the MTS Centre (where the team played as the Manitoba Moose (and will play again under that name) prior to the Jets relocation to Winnipeg from Atlanta.  The sale of the the Bulldogs opened up the possibility of the Jets move to Winnipeg as they could not break their lease at the Mile One Centre without having a replacement affiliation lined up and the lease in St. John's would be expiring about the same time that a new facility; (Place Bell) was scheduled to open in Laval, Quebec sometime in 2017 or 2018.  The new facility is to be run by the same people that run the Molson Centre in Montreal.  The former owner of the Hamilton Bulldogs purchased the Belleville Bulls franchise in the OHL and announced they would be moving to Hamilton to fill the void in the city taken the name Hamilton Bulldogs. 

The Portland Pirates, (affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes), Lake Erie Monsters (affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche),  and the Utica Comets (affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) have also been mentioned as possibly being on the move over the next few years. The Colorado Avalanche are reported to be looking at relocating the team to the Denver Coliseum, which was home to the inactive Denver Cutthroats of the former Central Hockey League as well as possible some other locations in Colorado and possibly Salt Lake City, Utah. The Arizona Coyotes were reported to be looking at Prescott Valley, Arizona,  home of the inactive Arizona Sundogs also of the former Central Hockey League.  The Vancouver Canucks are also reported to be looking at nearby Abbotsford, British Columbia (the former home of the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL) Anchorage, Alaska (the current home of the ECHL's Alaska Aces) and Allen, Texas (the current home of the ECHL's Allen Americans) for their affiliate.

Four of the AHL teams had their affilations change for the 2015-16 season. The affilation of the Lake Erie Monsters changed from the Colorado Avalanche to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Portland Pirates are changing from the Arizona Coyotes to the Florida Panthers. The San Antonio Rampage are changing from Florda Panthers to the Colorado Avalanche. The Springfield Falcons are changing from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Arizona Coyotes.

The ECHL is presently at 28 teams with affiliations with 29 of the 30 NHL teams (all but the New Jersey Devils for 2014-15) with many ECHL teams splitting affiliations with multiple NHL teams and some NHL teams affiliated with multiple ECHL teams  This practice has gradually been worked on being phased out.  This has lead to an expansion of the ECHL to 30 teams, which has stated it wanted to cap its membership at 30 teams. The ECHL has announced the addition of a team in Worcester, Massachusetts for 2017-18 to replace the departed AHL team to bring membership in that league up to 29 teams and an appllication has been filed to another expansion team (with 2017-18 start up dated planned) for Portland, Maine to replace their recently departed team.

The New York Islanders relocation to Brooklyn after their lease is up at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the end of the 2014-15 NHL season may also trigger another set of future moves.  The ownership of the coliseum chose the management group of the Barclays Center to conduct a study on the redevelopment of the arena and the surrounding area.  The plan is to have a minor league hockey team play out of the new facility when it is expect to open in 2018; most likely candidate would be the relocated Bridgeport Sound Tigers. However, the team has a lease with the of Bridgeport through 2021 to play at the Webster Bank Arena.  The lease could be sold to the New York Rangers who have their AHL franchise, the Hartford Wolf Pack, playing in the former home of the Hartford Whalers. The city of Hartford has had discussions on replacing the aging XL Center with a new state of the art arena in the hopes of landing another NHL franchise.  The XL Center location has been mentioned as the site for the new arena leaving the team without a home.

On April 19, 2016 the owner of the Springfield Falcons and the NHL's Arizona Coyotes announced an agreement in principle for the Coyotes ownership to acquire the Falcons franchise and to relocate the team to the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona for the 2016-17 season and join the Pacific Division.  The move was pending league Board of Governors approval. Shortly (on May 4, 2016) after the Springfield Falcons were sold to the Arizona Coyotes and the Falcons were announced as moving to Tucson, Arizona, the Pirates organization was reported to be moving to Springfield, Massachusetts to replace the Falcons in the MassMutual Center.  Both moved were approved in April of 2016 by the AHL's Board of Governors.  The Springfield franchise would choose the name Springfield Thunderbirds as the team name on June 16th and the Tucson team would chose the name Tucson Roadrunners on June 18th.

When the NHL announced they added the Las Vegas team for 2017-18, the AHL was put on notice that they will probably need to expand in short order.  The noted cities included Fresno, California, Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah and even Las Vegas.

Teams (Alignment for 2016-17 season)Edit


American Hockey League 2015-16 map zoomed.svg

Location of AHL teams for the 2015-16 season

Future TeamsEdit

Timeline (List)Edit

Timeline (Graph)Edit

Lake Erie MonstersUtah Grizzlies (1995–2005)St. John's IceCapsManitoba MooseMilwaukee AdmiralsManchester MonarchsIowa WildHouston Aeros (1994–2013)Grand Rapids GriffinsChicago WolvesBridgeport Sound TigersNorfolk AdmiralsTexas StarsIowa StarsLouisville PanthersAlbany DevilsLowell DevilsWorcester SharksCleveland Barons (2001–06)Kentucky ThoroughbladesLehigh Valley PhantomsAdirondack PhantomsPhiladelphia PhantomsBeast of New HavenCarolina MonarchsRockford Ice HogsCincinnati Mighty DucksBaltimore BanditsSpringfield FalconsSyracuse CrunchHamilton CanucksCharlotte Checkers (2010–)Albany River RatsCapital District IslandersAdirondack FlamesAbbotsford HeatQuad City FlamesOmaha Ak-Sar-Ben KnightsSaint John FlamesUtica DevilsHamilton BulldogsCape Breton OilersNova Scotia OilersMoncton Golden FlamesSherbrooke JetsWilkes-Barre/Scranton PenguinsCornwall AcesHalifax CitadelsFredericton ExpressPortland PiratesBaltimore SkipjacksErie BladesToronto MarliesSt. John's Maple LeafsNewmarket SaintsSt. Catharines SaintsNew Brunswick HawksSyracuse FirebirdsPhiladelphia Firebirds (ice hockey)Providence BruinsMaine MarinersHampton GullsSyracuse EaglesBinghamton SenatorsPrince Edward Island SenatorsNew Haven NighthawksSan Antonio RampageAdirondack Red WingsVirginia WingsCincinnati SwordsMoncton HawksBoston Braves (AHL)Oklahoma City BaronsEdmonton Road RunnersToronto RoadrunnersQuebec CitadellesFredericton CanadiensSherbrooke CanadiensNova Scotia VoyageursMontreal VoyageursBaltimore ClippersRichmond RobinsQuebec AcesRochester AmericansPhiladelphia RocketsSt. Louis FlyersCincinnati MohowksWashington LionsIndianapolis CapitalsHershey BearsBuffalo Bisons (AHL)Syracuse StarsUtica CometsPeoria Rivermen (AHL)Worcester IceCatsSpringfield IndiansSyracuse WarriorsSpringfield IndiansHartford Wolf PackBinghamton RangersProvidence RedsPittsburgh HornetsPhiladelphia RamblersNew Haven EaglesJacksonville BaronsCleveland Barons (1937-1973)Buffalo Bisons (IHL)

AHL All-Star GameEdit

The American Hockey League first held an All-Star Game in the 1941–42 season. The event was not played again until the 1954–55 season, and was then held annually until the 1959–60 season. In the 1994–95 season, the AHL revived the events again, and has been played every season since. The skills competition was first introduced for the 1995–96 season. The PlanetUSA team is made up of players born outside of Canada and the Canada team was made up of players born within Canada.

February 1, 2016 Oncenter War Memorial Arena Syracuse, NY
January 26, 2015 Utica Memorial Auditorium Utica, New York West All-Stars 14 East All-Stars 12
February 12, 2014 Mile One Stadium St. John's, NL AHL All-Stars 7 Färjestad BK 2
January 28, 2013 Dunkin' Donuts Center Providence, Rhode Island West All-Stars 7 East All-Stars 6
January 30, 2012 Boardwalk Hall Atlantic City, NJ West All-Stars 8 East All-Stars 7 (SO)
January 31, 2011 Giant Center Hershey, PA East All-Stars 11 West All-Stars 8
January 19, 2010 Cumberland County Civic Center Portland, ME Canada 10 PlanetUSA 9 (SO)
January 26, 2009 DCU Center Worcester, MA PlanetUSA 14 Canada 11
January 28, 2008 Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena Binghamton, NY Canada 9 PlanetUSA 8 (SO)
January 29, 2007 Ricoh Coliseum Toronto, ON PlanetUSA 7 Canada 6
February 1, 2006 MTS Centre Winnipeg, MB Canada 9 PlanetUSA 4
February 14, 2005 Verizon Wireless Arena Manchester, NH PlanetUSA 5 Canada 4 (SO)
February 9, 2004 Van Andel Arena Grand Rapids, MI Canada 9 PlanetUSA 5
February 3, 2003 Cumberland County Civic Center Portland, ME Canada 10 PlanetUSA 7
February 14, 2002 Mile One Stadium St. John's, NF Canada 13 PlanetUSA 11
January 15, 2001 First Union Arena at Casey Plaza Wilkes-Barre, PA Canada 11 PlanetUSA 10
January 17, 2000 Blue Cross Arena Rochester, NY Canada 8 PlanetUSA 3
January 25, 1999 First Union Center Philadelphia, PA PlanetUSA 5 Canada 4 (OT/SO)
February 11, 1998 Onondaga War Memorial Syracuse, NY Canada 11 PlanetUSA 10
January 16, 1997 Harbour Station Saint John, NB World 3 Canada 2 (OT/SO)
January 16, 1996 Hersheypark Arena Hershey, PA USA 6 Canada 5
January 17, 1995 Providence Civic Center Providence, RI Canada 6 USA 4
December 10, 1959 Eastern States Coliseum West Springfield, MA Springfield Indians 8 AHL All-Stars 3
January 15, 1959 Hershey Sports Arena Hershey, PA Hershey Bears 5 AHL All-Stars 2
October 6, 1957 Rochester Community War Memorial Rochester, NY AHL All-Stars 5 Cleveland Barons 2
October 23, 1956 Rhode Island Auditorium Providence, RI Providence Reds 4 AHL All-Stars 0
January 10, 1956 Duquesne Gardens Pittsburgh, PA AHL All-Stars 4 Pittsburgh Hornets 4
October 27, 1954 Hershey Sports Arena Hershey, PA AHL All-Stars 7 Cleveland Barons 3
February 3, 1942 Cleveland Arena Cleveland, OH East All-Stars 5 West All-Stars 4

AHL Hall of FameEdit

On January 6, 2006, the league announced the first inductees into the AHL's new Hall of Fame: Johnny Bower, Jack Butterfield, Jody Gage, Fred Glover, Willie Marshall, Frank Mathers, & Eddie Shore. The founding members were formally inducted, on February 1, 2006.

Year Name Position
2006 Bower, JohnnyJohnny Bower G
2006 Butterfield, JackJack Butterfield Executive
2006 Gage, JodyJody Gage RW
2006 Glover, FredFred Glover C
2006 Marshall, WillieWillie Marshall C
2006 Mathers, FrankFrank Mathers D
2006 Shore, EddieEddie Shore D / Owner
2007 Cook, BunBun Cook Coach
2007 Gamble, DickDick Gamble LW
2007 Mayer, GillesGilles Mayer G
2007 Nykoluk, MikeMike Nykoluk C
2008 Kraftcheck, SteveSteve Kraftcheck D
2008 Price, NoelNoel Price D
2008 Tookey, TimTim Tookey C
2009 Anderson, JimJim Anderson F
2009 Boudreau, BruceBruce Boudreau F / Coach
2009 Cunningham, LesLes Cunningham F
2009 Pieri, LouisLouis Pieri Owner
2010 Kilpatrick, MacgregorMacgregor Kilpatrick Owner
2010 Paddock, JohnJohn Paddock Coach
2010 Paille, MarcelMarcel Paille G
2010 Sweeney, BillBill Sweeney C
2011 Lamoureux, MitchMitch Lamoureux F
2011 Pidhirny, HarryHarry Pidhirny F
2011 Podoloff, MauriceMaurice Podoloff Executive
2011 Wilson, LarryLarry Wilson Coach
2012 Gordon, JackJack Gordon Coach/GM
2012 Stevens, JohnJohn Stevens D
2012 Toppazzini , ZellioZellio Toppazzini F
2013 Bennett , HarveyHarvey Bennett G
2013 Gernander, KenKen Gernander F
2013 White, PeterPeter White F
2014 Dineen, BillBill Dineen Coach
2014 MacNeil, AlAl MacNeil D
2014 Slaney, JohnJohn Slaney D
2014 Perrault, BobBob Perrault G
2015 Cassivi, FrederickFrederick Cassivi G
2015 Hendy, JamesJames Hendy executive
2015 Horvath, BroncoBronco Horvath F
2015 Stratton, ArtArt Stratton F

Trophies and AwardsEdit

The following is a list of awards of the American Hockey League.

Individual AwardsEdit

Team AwardsEdit

Trophy predates American Hockey League, established 1926–27 in the Canadian Professional Hockey League.

Other AwardsEdit

See AlsoEdit

External linksEdit

Current arenas in the American Hockey League (as of 2016-17 season)
Eastern Conference Blue Cross Arena  · Dunkin' Donuts Center · Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena  · GIANT Center  · MassMutual Center  · Mile One Centre  · Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza  · Oncenter War Memorial Arena  · PPL Center  · Ricoh Coliseum  · Times Union Center  · Utica Memorial Auditorium  · Webster Bank Arena  · XL Center
Western Conference AT&T Center  · Allstate Arena  · BMO Harris Bank Center  · BMO Harris Bradley Center  · Cedar Park Center  · Citizens Business Bank Arena  · MTS Centre  · Quicken Loans Arena  · Rabobank Arena  · Time Warner Cable Arena  · Valley View Casino Center  · SAP Center at San Jose  · Stockton Arena  · Tucson Convention Center  · Van Andel Arena  · Wells Fargo Arena

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American Hockey LeagueAmerican Hockey AssociationCentral Hockey LeagueColonial Hockey LeagueECHLEastern Professional Hockey LeagueInternational Hockey League (1945-2001)International Hockey League (2007-)Pacific Coast Hockey League (1933-1941)Quebec Hockey LeagueSouth East Hockey LeagueSouthern Hockey League (1995-1996)Southern Professional Hockey LeagueSunshine Hockey LeagueTropical Hockey LeagueWest Coast Hockey LeagueWestern Hockey League (minor pro)Edinburgh TrophyEastern Hockey League

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