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The alternate logo of the AHL.
American Hockey League (AHL) is a 29-team professional ice hockey league based primarily in the United Statesmarker that serves as the primary developmental circuit for the National Hockey League (NHL). During the 2009-10 season, 29 of the 30 NHL teams have primary affiliation agreements with one of the AHL's active member clubs of which 25 are located in the United States and the remaining four are in Canada. (With no primary AHL affiliate in 2009-10, the Anaheim Ducks' prospects were distributed among a number of AHL clubs.) The league offices are located in Springfield, Massachusettsmarker, 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 Hershey Bears.

Formation and growth of the AHL

Predecessor leagues (1926–1936)

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: Springfieldmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Providencemarker and New Havenmarker. 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 Buffalomarker, Syracusemarker, Pittsburghmarker, and Clevelandmarker.

A "circuit of mutual convenience" (1936–38)

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 play-off 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)

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, Ontariomarker, 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.[29753] (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)

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, Mainemarker 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—Philadelphiamarker and Binghamtonmarker—suddenly without a league to play in. Binghamton solved its problem by acquiring and moving the Reds' franchise from Providencemarker 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.

Major expansion through absorption of the IHL (2001–02)

In 2001–02 its membership jumped dramatically to 27 in 2001–02 mostly by absorbing six cities -- Milwaukeemarker, Chicagomarker, Houstonmarker, Salt Lake Citymarker (as Utah), Winnipegmarker (as Manitoba), and Grand Rapidsmarker -- 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 Clevelandmarker 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.


Current AHL team locations (2009-2010 Season)

2009–10 Teams

Eastern Conference
Division Team Arena City/Area NHL Affiliate Team ECHL/IHL/CHL Affiliate Team(s)
Atlantic Bridgeport Sound Tigers Arena at Harbor Yardmarker Bridgeport, CTmarker New York Islanders Utah Grizzlies/Odessa Jackalopes
Hartford Wolf Pack XL Centermarker Hartford, CTmarker New York Rangers Charlotte Checkers/Mississippi RiverKings
Lowell Devils Paul E.marker Tsongas Arenamarker Lowell, MAmarker New Jersey Devils Trenton Devils
Manchester Monarchs Verizon Wireless Arenamarker Manchester, NHmarker Los Angeles Kings Ontario Reign
Portland Pirates Cumberland County Civic Centermarker Portland, MEmarker Buffalo Sabres vacant
Providence Bruins Dunkin' Donuts Centermarker Providence, RImarker Boston Bruins vacant
Springfield Falcons MassMutual Centermarker Springfield, MAmarker Edmonton Oilers Stockton Thunder
Worcester Sharks DCU Centermarker Worcester, MAmarker San Jose Sharks Kalamazoo Wings
Adirondack Phantoms Glens Falls Civic Centermarker Glens Fallsmarker, NYmarker Philadelphia Flyers Kalamazoo Wings/Quad City Mallards
Albany River Rats Times Union Centermarker Albany, NYmarker Carolina Hurricanes Florida Everblades
Binghamton Senators Broome County Veterans Memorial Arenamarker Binghamton, NYmarker Ottawa Senators Elmira Jackals
Hershey Bears GIANT Centermarker Hershey, PAmarker Washington Capitals South Carolina Stingrays
Norfolk Admirals Norfolk Scopemarker Norfolk, VAmarker Tampa Bay Lightning Colorado Eagles
Syracuse Crunch War Memorial at Oncentermarker Syracuse, NYmarker Columbus Blue Jackets Johnstown Chiefs
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Wachovia Arena at Casey Plazamarker Wilkes-Barre, PAmarker Pittsburgh Penguins Wheeling Nailers
Western Conference
Division Team Arena City/Area NHL Affiliate Team ECHL/IHL/CHL Affiliate Team(s)
North Abbotsford Heat Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centremarker Abbotsford, BCmarker Calgary Flames Utah Grizzlies
Grand Rapids Griffins Van Andel Arenamarker Grand Rapids, MImarker Detroit Red Wings Toledo Walleye
Hamilton Bulldogs Copps Coliseummarker Hamilton, ONmarker Montreal Canadiens Cincinnati Cyclones
Lake Erie Monsters Quicken Loans Arenamarker Cleveland, OHmarker Colorado Avalanche Charlotte Checkers
Manitoba Moose MTS Centremarker Winnipegmarker, MBmarker Vancouver Canucks Victoria Salmon Kings
Rochester Americans Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial Rochester, NYmarker Florida Panthers Florida Everblades
Toronto Marlies Ricoh Coliseummarker Torontomarker, ONmarker Toronto Maple Leafs Reading Royals
West Chicago Wolves Allstate Arenamarker Rosemont, ILmarker Atlanta Thrashers Gwinnett Gladiators
Houston Aeros Toyota Centermarker Houston, TXmarker Minnesota Wild Johnstown Chiefs
Milwaukee Admirals Bradley Centermarker Milwaukee, WImarker Nashville Predators Cincinnati Cyclones
Peoria Rivermen Carver Arena Peoria, ILmarker St. Louis Blues Alaska Aces
Rockford IceHogs Rockford MetroCentremarker Rockford, ILmarker Chicago Blackhawks Toledo Walleye
San Antonio Rampage AT&T Centermarker San Antonio, TXmarker Phoenix Coyotes/Anaheim Ducks Las Vegas Wranglers
Texas Stars Cedar Park Center Cedar Park, TXmarker Dallas Stars Idaho Steelheads/Allen Americans

Inactive franchises

  • Edmonton Road Runners – (since 2004–05) owned by NHL Edmonton Oilers.
  • Iowa Chops – Involuntarily suspended on July 7, 2009, by the AHL Board of Governors for the 2009-10 season for being "unable to remedy certain violations of the provisions of the league’s Constitution and By-Laws" .

Timeline of teams

AHL All-Star Game

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 is made up of players born within Canada.

Date Arena City Winners Score Losers Score
January 19, 2010 Cumberland County Civic Centermarker Portland, MEmarker
January 26, 2009 DCU Centermarker Worcester, MAmarker PlanetUSA 14 Canada 11
January 28, 2008 Broome County Veterans Memorial Arenamarker Binghamton, NYmarker Canada 9 PlanetUSA 8 (SO)
January 29, 2007 Ricoh Coliseummarker Torontomarker, ONmarker PlanetUSA 7 Canada 6
February 1, 2006 MTS Centremarker Winnipeg, MBmarker Canada 9 PlanetUSA 4
February 14, 2005 Verizon Wireless Arenamarker Manchester, NHmarker PlanetUSA 5 Canada 4 (SO)
February 9, 2004 Van Andel Arenamarker Grand Rapids, MImarker Canada 9 PlanetUSA 5
February 3, 2003 Cumberland County Civic Centermarker Portland, MEmarker Canada 10 PlanetUSA 7
February 14, 2002 Mile One Stadiummarker St. John's, NFmarker Canada 13 PlanetUSA 11
January 15, 2001 First Union Arena at Casey Plazamarker Wilkes-Barre, PAmarker Canada 11 PlanetUSA 10
January 17, 2000 Blue Cross Arenamarker Rochester, NYmarker Canada 8 PlanetUSA 3
January 25, 1999 First Union Centermarker Philadelphia, PAmarker PlanetUSA 5 Canada 4 (OT/SO)
February 11, 1998 Onondaga War Memorialmarker Syracuse, NYmarker Canada 11 PlanetUSA 10
January 16, 1997 Harbour Stationmarker Saint John, NBmarker World 3 Canada 2 (OT/SO)
January 16, 1996 Hersheypark Arenamarker Hershey, PAmarker USA 6 Canada 5
January 17, 1995 Providence Civic Centermarker Providence, RImarker Canada 6 USA 4
December 10, 1959 Eastern States Coliseummarker West Springfield, MAmarker Springfield Indians 8 AHL All-Stars 3
January 15, 1959 Hershey Sports Arenamarker Hershey, PA Hershey Bears 5 AHL All-Stars 2
October 6, 1957 Rochester Community War Memorialmarker Rochester, NY AHL All-Stars 5 Cleveland Barons 2
October 23, 1956 Rhode Island Auditoriummarker Providence, RI Providence Reds 4 AHL All-Stars 0
January 10, 1956 Duquesne Gardensmarker Pittsburgh, PAmarker 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 Arenamarker Cleveland, OHmarker East All-Stars 5 West All-Stars 4

AHL Hall of Fame

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 and Eddie Shore. The founding members were formally inducted, on February 1, 2006.

Year Name Position
2006 G
2006 Admin
2006 RW
2006 C
2006 C
2006 D
2006 D
2007 LW
2007 LW
2007 G
2007 C
2008 D
2008 D
2008 C
2009 F
2009 F
2009 F

Trophies and awards

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

Individual awards

Team awards

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

Other awards

See also


External links

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