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The Central Hockey League was a minor professional league that operated in the United States from 1963 to 1984. Initially named the Central Professional Hockey League, it was owned and operated by the National Hockey League and served as a successor to the Eastern Professional Hockey League, which had folded after the 1962-63 season. Four of the CHL's initial franchises were, in fact, relocations of the previous year's EPHL teams. Its founding president was Jack Adams, who served in the role until his death in 1968. The CHL's championship trophy was called the Adams Cup in his honor.

League arenas in 1972


In the league's first season, all five teams were affiliated with an NHL club. The CHL initially consisted of the Indianapolis Capitals (formerly Sudbury Wolves) with the Detroit Red Wings, Minneapolis Bruins (formerly Kingston Frontenacs) with the Boston Bruins, Omaha Knights (formerly Hull-Ottawa Canadiens) with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Braves with the Chicago Black Hawks) and the St. Paul Rangers with the New York Rangers. The New York Rangers had not had a farm team in the EPHL in 1962-63.

The only NHL team without a CHL affiliate that year, the Toronto Maple Leafs, joined the league through its affiliation with the Tulsa Oilers in the CHL's second season.

In that first season, 1963-64, the Capitals were forced to relocate because of a terrible accident in their arena. They became the Cincinnati Wings.

From 1964 to 1970, teams from this league played exhibition games during the season against the Canadian national team.

After Adams's death, Emory Jones served as interim president until the appointment of lawyer Joe Kane in August 1968. Kane served one year as president, retiring in June 1969. Kane was succeeded by Jones, who held the job until retiring in 1974. Max McNab served as league president from 1974 until becoming general manager of the Washington Capitals during his second season. Ray Miron was hired as president in August 1976, but resigned less than three weeks later to accept the job as general manager of the Colorado Rockies. Before the end of the month, Bud Poile became league president and would hold the job until the CHL folded in 1984.

For the 1974-75 season, the CHL absorbed three teams, the Denver Spurs, Salt Lake Golden Eagles, and Seattle Totems, from the folding Western Hockey League. Denver and Seattle would play only one season, but Salt Lake would stay in the league until the end and would continue in the International Hockey League for the 1984-85 season, after the CHL ceased operations. For 1979-80, the CHL added the Cincinnati Stingers and Birmingham Bulls, the two teams from the World Hockey Association that were not admitted to the NHL that year.

Also during the 1979-80 season, the United States Olympic hockey team played games against each team in the CHL that counted in the standings. The team went on to win the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics. In the 1983-84 season, both the U.S. and Canadian Olympic hockey teams played games in the CHL.

The CHL's final champions, the Tulsa Oilers, were left without a home during their championship 1983-84 season when the team owners went into receivership. The league stepped in to keep the team operating, and the Oilers played all their games on the road from mid-February through the end of the playoffs. Their Cup-winning game on April 27, 1984 was the last game played in the CHL. The league folded the following month.


Team Location Arena Tenure Notes
Indianapolis Capitals Indianapolis, Indiana Pepsi Coliseum 1963-1963 relocated to Cincinnati due to arena explosion October 31, 1963; renamed
Minneapolis Bruins Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis Arena 1963-1965 relocated to Oklahoma City; renamed Oklahoma City Blazers (1965-1977)
Omaha Knights Omaha, Nebraska Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum 1963-1965 relocated to Houston; renamed Houston Apollos
St. Paul Rangers St. Paul, Minnesota St. Paul Auditorium 1963-1965 renamed Minnesota Rangers
St. Louis Braves St. Louis, Missouri St. Louis Arena 1963-1967 relocated to Dallas; renamed Dallas Black Hawks when city gets NHL team
Cincinnati Wings Cincinnati, Ohio Cincinnati Gardens 1963-1964 relocated to Memphis; renaned Memphis Wings
Memphis Wings Memphis, Tennessee Mid-South Coliseum 1964-1967 relocated to Fort Worth; renamed Fort Worth Wings
Tulsa Oilers Tulsa, Oklahoma Tulsa Convention Center (1964-1983) Expo Square Pavilion (1983-1984) 1964-1984 fold with league after team being taken over by league
Houston Apollos Houston, Texas Sam Houston Coliseum 1965-1969 folded as Montreal Canadiens move farm team to Montreal
Minnesota Rangers St. Paul, Minnesota St. Paul Auditorium 1965-1966

relocated to Omaha; renamed Omaha Knights

Oklahoma City Blazers (1965-1977) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Fairgrounds Arena 1965-1972
Omaha Knights Omaha, Nebraska Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum 1966-1975 fold
Dallas Black Hawks Dallas, Texas State Fair Coliseum 1967-1982 ceased operations
Fort Worth Wings Fort Worth, Texas Will Rogers Coliseum 1967-1974 renamed Fort Worth Texans
Kansas City Blues Kansas City, Missouri American Royal Building 1967-1972 fold
Memphis South Stars Memphis, Tennessee Mid-South Coliseum 1967-1969 relocated to Waterloo, Iowa; renamed Iowa Stars
Amarillo Wranglers Amarillo, Texas Amarillo Civic Center 1968-1969 ceased operations; return for 1970-71 season
Iowa Stars Waterloo, Iowa McElroy Auditorium 1969-1970 fold
Amarillo Wranglers Amarillo, Texas Amarillo Civic Center 1970-1971 fold
Albuquerque Six Guns Albuquerque, New Mexico Tingley Coliseum 1973-1974 fold
Oklahoma City Blazers (1965-1977) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma The Myriad 1973-1977 fold
Denver Spurs Denver, Colorado McNichols Sports Arena 1974-1975 ownership awarded World Hockey Association franchise
Fort Worth Texans Fort Worth, Texas Will Rogers Coliseum 1974-1982
Salt Lake Golden Eagles Salt Lake City, Utah Salt Palace 1974-1984
Seattle Totems Seattle, Washington Seattle Center Coliseum 1974-1975
Tucson Mavericks Tucson, Arizona Tucson Community Center 1975-1976
Kansas City Blues Kansas City, Missouri Kemper Arena 1976-1977 renamed Kansas City Red Wings
Kansas City Red Wings Kansas City, Missouri Kemper Arena 1977-1979
Phoenix Roadrunners Phoenix, Arizona Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum 1977-1977 withdrew December 12, 1977; join Pacific Hockey League
Oklahoma City Stars Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Cox Convention Center 1978-1982
Birmingham Bulls Birmingham, Alabama Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center 1979-1981 fold during season
Cincinnati Stingers Cincinnati, Ohio Riverfront Coliseum 1979-1980
Indianapolis Checkers Indianapolis, Indiana Pepsi Coliseum 1979-1984
Houston Apollos Houston, Texas Sam Houston Coliseum 1979-1981
Wichita Wind Wichita, Kansas Kansas Coliseum 1980-1983
Cincinnati Tigers Cincinnati, Ohio Riverfront Coliseum 1981-1982
Nashville South Stars Nashville, Tennessee Nashville Municipal Auditorium 1981-1982
Birmingham South Stars Birmingham, Alabama Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center 1982-1983 fold
Colorado Flames Denver, Colorado McNichols Sports Arena 1982-1984
Montana Magic Billings, Montana Yellowstone METRA 1983-1984 fold with league

Adams Cup champions

‡ Oilers team was left without a home after its owners in Tulsa went into receivership; played the last two months of the season and all playoff games as a road team, with salaries and expenses paid by the league.

Individual Trophies