A minor professional league, usually simply reffered to as minor league or the minors, is a professional or potentially even a semi-professional league that is not considered the top level of pro hockey in a given country. Those less prestigious leagues consequently usually have less money available for players, who are of a lesser quality than those found in major leagues and play in smaller venues in smaller cities, attracting a smaller fan base. Minor leagues are essentially a North American thing, originating in the franchise model of sports leagues and teams where there is no movement of teams between leagues unless it is agreed upon by league and team authorities.

It is not rare that minor professional teams are used by major professional teams as development teams ("farm teams"), where prospects are sent to hone their skills to prepare themselves for an eventual call-up to the parent team.

Minor professional leagues in North America[edit | edit source]

The American Hockey League stands as the most prominent minor pro league in North America, being used by the National Hockey League as a development league where young players are trained and some older ones are rehabilitated following an injury or a very bad slump. The AHL, in turn, also has a league to pass players down to, the ECHL. Several other lower minor pro leagues exist: they are the International Hockey League, the Central Hockey League, the Southern Professional Hockey League, the All American Hockey League, the North East Professional Hockey League and the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey.

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