|American Hockey League|
|No. of teams||31|
|Country(ies)|| United States|
|Most recent champion(s)||Charlotte Checkers (1st title)|
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.
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 and would be creating an AHL team.
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 were 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 became 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 would be adding 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. The Colorado Eagles of the ECHL would end up jumping up to the AHL to serve as the Golden Knights AHL affiliate
In the fall of 2016 the Ottawa Senators announced that they would be relocating their AHL affilate, the Binghamton Senators to Belleville, Ontario which lost its Ontario Hockey League team prior to the 2015-16 season. As a result of that move the Albany Devils put in an application to relocate to Binghamton as the team was last in the league in attendance.
The St. Louis Blues were planning on moving their AHL affiliate to the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri for the 2017-18 season. This move may lead the Vegas Golden Knights to set up an affiliation with the Chicago Wolves for the 2017-18 season.
On June 26, 2019 th Seattle NHL team would announce that it chose Palm Springs, California as the location for its' AHL affiliate starting with the 2021-22 season. The team will be based out of a new arena to be built in the city. The arena is to be built in a partnership between the Oak View Group (who are working on the renovation of the Key Arena in Seattle) and the Seattle team ownership. Palm Springs was chosen over Boise, Idaho as the location for the team.
Teams (Alignment for 2019-20 season)Edit
|Palm Springs AHL team||New Arena at Agua Caliente||Palm Springs, California|
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. From 1996 to 2010, the game took place between a team of players born outside of Canada and a team of players born within Canada. The All-Star Game was replaced by an all-star challenge between the league's divisions from the 2015-16 season onward. The challenge consists of six round-robin games between the league's divisions; the top two divisions in the challenge's round-robin phase advance to a six-minute championship game. The winning division of the championship game is declared the winner of the all-star challenge.
|January 29, 2018||Utica Memorial Auditorium||Utica, New York||Round robin results:|
Central 2-5 Atlantic
Pacific 5-3 North
Central 2-4 North
Pacific 4-3 Atlantic
Pacific 4-3 Central
North 4-3 Atlantic
|North Division||1-0||Pacific Division|
|January 30, 2017||PPL Center||Allentown, Pennsylvania||Round robin results:|
Central 1–2 Atlantic
Pacific 3–6 North
Central 2–1 North (SO)
Pacific 1–6 Atlantic
Pacific 3–5 Central
North 0–2 Atlantic
|Central Division||1–0 (SO)||Atlantic Division|
|February 1, 2016||Onondaga County War Memorial||Syracuse, New York||Round robin results:|
Pacific 0–1 North
Central 2–1 Atlantic (SO)
Central 4–2 North
Pacific 1–2 Atlantic
Central 4–6 Pacific
Atlantic 4–1 North
|Central Division||4–0||Atlantic Division|
|January 26, 2015||Utica Memorial Auditorium||Utica, New York||West All-Stars||14–12||East All-Stars|
|February 12, 2014||Mile One Centre||St. John's, NL||AHL All-Stars||7–2||Färjestad BK|
|January 28, 2013||Dunkin' Donuts Center||Providence, Rhode Island||West All-Stars||7–6||East All-Stars|
|January 30, 2012||Boardwalk Hall||Atlantic City, New Jersey||West All-Stars||8–7 (SO)||East All-Stars|
|January 31, 2011||Giant Center||Hershey, Pennsylvania||East All-Stars||11–8||West All-Stars|
|January 19, 2010||Cumberland County Civic Center||Portland, Maine||Canada||10–9 (SO)||PlanetUSA|
|January 26, 2009||DCU Center||Worcester, Massachusetts||PlanetUSA||14–11||Canada|
|January 28, 2008||Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena||Binghamton, New York||Canada||9–8 (SO)||PlanetUSA|
|January 29, 2007||Ricoh Coliseum||Toronto||PlanetUSA||7–6||Canada|
|February 1, 2006||MTS Centre||Winnipeg||Canada||9–4||PlanetUSA|
|February 14, 2005||Verizon Wireless Arena||Manchester, New Hampshire||PlanetUSA||5–4||Canada|
|February 9, 2004||Van Andel Arena||Grand Rapids, Michigan||Canada||9–5||PlanetUSA|
|February 3, 2003||Cumberland County Civic Center||Portland, Maine||Canada||10–7||PlanetUSA|
|February 14, 2002||Mile One Stadium||St. John's, NF||Canada||13–11||PlanetUSA|
|January 15, 2001||First Union Arena at Casey Plaza||Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania||Canada||11–10||PlanetUSA|
|January 17, 2000||Blue Cross Arena||Rochester, New York||Canada||8–3||PlanetUSA|
|January 25, 1999||First Union Center||Philadelphia||PlanetUSA||5–4 (SO)||Canada|
|February 11, 1998||Onondaga War Memorial Arena||Syracuse, New York||Canada||11–10||PlanetUSA|
|January 16, 1997||Harbour Station||Saint John, NB||World||3–2 (SO)||Canada|
|January 16, 1996||Hersheypark Arena||Hershey, Pennsylvania||USA||6–5||Canada|
|January 17, 1995||Providence Civic Center||Providence, Rhode Island||Canada||6–4||USA|
|December 10, 1959||Eastern States Coliseum||West Springfield, Massachusetts||Springfield Indians||8–3||AHL All-Stars|
|January 15, 1959||Hershey Sports Arena||Hershey, Pennsylvania||Hershey Bears||5–2||AHL All-Stars|
|October 6, 1957||Rochester Community War Memorial||Rochester, New York||AHL All-Stars||5–2||Cleveland Barons|
|October 23, 1956||Rhode Island Auditorium||Providence, Rhode Island||Providence Reds||4–0||AHL All-Stars|
|January 10, 1956||Duquesne Gardens||Pittsburgh||AHL All-Stars||4–4||Pittsburgh Hornets|
|October 27, 1954||Hershey Sports Arena||Hershey, Pennsylvania||AHL All-Stars||7–3||Cleveland Barons|
|February 3, 1942||Cleveland Arena||Cleveland, Ohio||East All-Stars||5–4||West All-Stars|
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.
Trophies and AwardsEdit
The following is a list of awards of the American Hockey League.
- Les Cunningham Award - Most valuable player (1947–48)
- John B. Sollenberger Trophy - Top point scorer (1947–48)
- Willie Marshall Award - Top goal scorer (2003–04)
- Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award - Rookie of the year (1947–48)
- Eddie Shore Award - Defenceman of the year (1958–59)
- Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award - Best Goaltender (1983–84)
- Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award - Lowest Goals against average (1947–48)
- Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award - Coach of the year (1967–68)
- Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award - Sportsmanship / Perseverance (1977–78)
- Yanick Dupre Memorial Award - Community Service Award (1997–98)
- Jack A. Butterfield Trophy - MVP of the playoffs (1983–84)
- Calder Cup - Playoffs champions (1936–37)
- Richard F. Canning Trophy - Eastern Conference playoff champions (1989–90)
- Robert W. Clarke Trophy - Western Conference playoff champions (1989–90)
- Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy - Regular season champions, League (1997–98)
- Frank Mathers Trophy - Regular Season champions, Eastern Conference (1995–96)
- Norman R. "Bud" Poile Trophy - Regular Season champions, Western Conference (2001–02)
- Emile Francis Trophy - Regular Season champions, Atlantic Division (2001–02)
- F. G. "Teddy" Oke Trophy - Regular Season champions, East Division (1936–37)†
- Sam Pollock Trophy - Regular Season champions, North Division (1995–96)
- John D. Chick Trophy - Regular Season champions, West Division (1961–62)
† Trophy predates American Hockey League, established 1926–27 in the Canadian Professional Hockey League.
- James C. Hendy Memorial Award - Executive of the Year (1961–62)
- Thomas Ebright Memorial Award - Outstanding career contributions (1997–98)
- James H. Ellery Memorial Awards - Outstanding media coverage (1964–65)
- Ken McKenzie Award - Marketing Executive of the Year (1978–79)
- Michael Condon Memorial Award - Outstanding service, On-ice official (2001–02)
|American Hockey League (2018-19 Alignment)|
|Seasons • Calder Cup • Champions • Calder Cup MVP • All-Star Classic • Draft • Players (Association) • All-Star Teams • Outdoor Classic|
|Les Cunningham Award • John B. Sollenberger Trophy • Willie Marshall Award • Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award • Eddie Shore Award • Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award • Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award • Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award • Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award • Yanick Dupre Memorial Award • Jack A. Butterfield Trophy|
|Richard F. Canning Trophy • Robert W. Clarke Trophy • Frank Mathers Trophy • Norman R. "Bud" Poile Trophy • Emile Francis Trophy • F. G. "Teddy" Oke Trophy • Sam Pollock Trophy • John D. Chick Trophy • James C. Hendy Memorial Award • Thomas Ebright Memorial Award • James H. Ellery Memorial Awards • Ken McKenzie Award • Michael Condon Memorial Award • President's Awards|
|2017–18 Season • 2018-19 Season|
|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|
|North American Minor Professional leagues|
|American Hockey League • American Hockey Association • Central Hockey League • Colonial Hockey League • ECHL • Eastern Professional Hockey League • International Hockey League (1945-2001) • International Hockey League (2007-) • Pacific Coast Hockey League (1933-1941) • Quebec Hockey League • South East Hockey League • Southern Hockey League (1995-1996) • Southern Professional Hockey League • Sunshine Hockey League •Tropical Hockey League • West Coast Hockey League • Western Hockey League (minor pro) • Edinburgh Trophy • Eastern Hockey League •|
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