The league was founded in 1933 as the Eastern Amateur Hockey League (EAHL). The league was founded by Thomas Lockhart, who served as its commissioner from 1933 to 1972. Lockhart, who operated a small intramural hockey league at New York City's Madison Square Garden, offered his teams - and the use of the MSG ice - in exchange for joining the league.
The EAHL operated between 1933-1948 and 1949-1953. The league has a somewhat tenuous existence. It began with seven teams, and had various numbers of teams, going as low as four. There was no 1948-49 season, due to the New York Rovers and Boston Olympics withdrawing; thus leaving the league with two teams, the Atlantic City Sea Gulls and the Baltimore Clippers.
The league returned for the 1949-50 season with eight teams including the return of Rovers and Olympics to the league and the addition of two former IHL teams; the Milwaukee Clarks and the Toledo Buckeyes as well as two new teams (the Grand Rapids Rockets and the Cleveland Knights. An eight team league was short lived as the Baltimore and Cleveland franchises both folded on December 4, 1949.
Between the 1951-52 and 1952-53 seasons the league had several changes as the Boston Olympics transferred to Washington, DC asuming the Washington Lions name. The New York Rovers moved to Troy, NY becoming the Troy Uncle Sam Trojans due to losing home dates at Madison Square Garden to the NBA's New York Knickerbockers. The Atlantic City Sea Gulls were left without enough home dates at their home arena when the Atlantic City Convention Center was too booked with conventions for them to operate out of the facility
League founder and president Tom Lockhart worked on getting the league back together for the following season. The league returned for the 1954-55 season with a line up of the following; Baltimore Clippers, Washington Lions, New Haven Blades,and associate members playing a partial schedule the Clinton Comets and the Worcester Warriors. The Worcester team was made up entirely of American players mostly from the US collegiate ranks. The league changed its' name to the Eastern Hockey League.
The league playoff championship was named the Boardwalk Cup.
Note: The Grand Rapids Stadium did not open until 1952. Based on the fact that it was used by a minor league basketball team during the 1950-51 season, it is possible this was also the home of the Grand Rapids Rockets.
The league started up again for the 1954-55 season and changed its name to the Eastern Hockey League.
This league operated between 1954 and 1973. It began with five teams and grew into two divisions for the 1959-60 season. The league reached its peak in 1967-68 when it had twelve teams in two divisions. In its final season the league had twelve teams split into three divisions.
The Northeastern Hockey League was founded in 1978. A year later the Eastern Hockey League name was revived. This league was not successful and folded after only three seasons due to financial issues. The league was reorganized as the Atlantic Coast Hockey League, which is a forerunner of the ECHL.