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The American Hockey League (AHL) is a 30-team professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental circuit for the National Hockey League (NHL). In the 2010–11 AHL season, every team in the league has an affiliation agreement with a National Hockey League team; in the past, one or two NHL teams would not have an AHL affiliate and would assign players to other teams' organizations. Twenty-six AHL teams 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.

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 Norfolk Admirals.

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American Hockey League Wiki
2012–13 AHL season
Sport Ice Hockey
Founded 1936 (IHL/C-AHL Interlocking schedules); 1938 (IHL/C-AHL formally merged)
No. of teams 30
Country(ies) United States (26 teams)
Canada (4 teams)
Most recent champion(s) Norfolk Admirals
Most championship(s) Hershey Bears (11)
TV partner(s) Canada: AHL on CBC
Official website

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: 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)

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)

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)

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.

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—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.

AHL Outdoor Classic

The Outdoor Classic is a series of games played outdoors in the American Hockey League. Paralleling the National Hockey League's Winter Classic and Heritage Classic, the Outdoor Classic pits two regional rivals in a game in an outdoor stadium; with the AHL being based mainly in minor league cities, the stadiums are usually smaller than the ones the Winter Classic uses. To date, all three Outdoor Classics have featured two teams from neighboring or nearby cities; the first two games were held on the third weekend of February.


The Mirabito Outdoor Classic was the first ever outdoor hockey game in the history of the 74 year American Hockey League. The game was put on by the Syracuse Crunch and played at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY. The game took place on Saturday February 20, 2010 when the Syracuse Crunch beat the Binghamton Senators 2-1. The game set an AHL attendance record with 21,508 people making history. The title sponsor of the game was Mirabito Energy Products with other prime sponsors: Time Warner Cable, Toyota, Labatt Blue, Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts, Wynit, Syracuse Conventions and Visitors Bureau and Renaissance Syracuse Hotel.

2010 Outdoor Classic Logo


A 2011 edition of the Outdoor Classic, known as the Whale Bowl, was held between the Providence Bruins and the recently rechristened Connecticut Whale, formerly the Hartford Wold Pack, on February 19, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The game was held one day before the NHL's 2011 Heritage Classic and Hockey Day in America celebrations. The Whale Bowl was a highlight of a multiple-day "Whalers Hockey Fest" organized by the Whale in honor of the former Hartford Whalers; prior to the game, two other hockey games were held on the outdoor surface, including a college hockey game between the Army Black Knights and American International College (Army won 4-1), as well as an alumni game between alumni of the Boston Bruins and Hartford Whalers (which ended in a 4-4 tie) which drew 10,000 fans. 21,600 tickets were sold for the feature event, but only 15,234 fans actually showed up at the stadium to see the game. The Providence Bruins defeated the Connecticut Whale in a shootout, 5-4.


An AHL record crowd of 45,653 watched the Adirondack Phantoms defeat the Hershey Bears, 4-3 in OT, at the 2012 AHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA.

AHL "Winter Classic" Logo

On January 6, 2012, the largest crowd in AHL history saw the Adirondack Phantoms defeat theHershey Bears, 4-3, in OT before 45,653 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA, as the final event of the week long activities associated with 2012 NHL Winter Classic which also included a game between the host Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers on January 2 and an Alumni Game between retired players (including eight honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame) of those two clubs on December 31, 2011. The contest was the third outdoor game in AHL history and it more than doubled the league's previous single-game attendance mark. In previous outdoor games the Connecticut Whale and Providence Bruins drew 21,673 fans at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT, in 2011, and the inaugural outdoor game between the Syracuse Crunch and Binghamton Senators in 2010 saw a crowd of 21,508 fans pack the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY.

Outdoor Classic Logo

Another outdoor game will be held at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. Said game will feature a match-up between the Toronto Marlies and the Hamilton Bulldogs, on January 21, 2012. A crowd of 20,565 spectators watched the hometown Bulldogs fall to the Marlies, 7–2.


Two outdoor games have been announced for the 2012-13 AHL season. The Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies were scheduled to meet at Comerica Park in Detroit on Dec. 30, 2012, as part of the festivities surrounding the contingent NHL Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto. However due to the cancellation of the NHL Winter Classic, this game won't take place at Comerica Park. Then on Jan. 20, 2013, the Hershey Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will meet outdoors at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa. The game resulted with the Penguins winning in overtime.


2013 AHL Outdoor Classic Highlights - Bears vs Penguins


2013 AHL Outdoor Classic Logo



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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.

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

Year Name Position
2006 Bower, JohnnyJohnny Bower G
2006 Butterfield, JackJack Butterfield Executive
2006 Gage, JodyJody Gage RW
2006 Glover, FredFred Glover C
2006 Marshall, WillieWillie Marshall C
2006 Mathers, FrankFrank Mathers D
2006 Shore, EddieEddie Shore D / Owner
2007 Cook, BunBun Cook Coach
2007 Gamble, DickDick Gamble LW
2007 Mayer, GillesGilles Mayer G
2007 Nykoluk, MikeMike Nykoluk C
2008 Kraftcheck, SteveSteve Kraftcheck D
2008 Price, NoelNoel Price D
2008 Tookey, TimTim Tookey C
2009 Anderson, JimJim Anderson F
2009 Boudreau, BruceBruce Boudreau F / Coach
2009 Cunningham, LesLes Cunningham F
2009 Pieri, LouisLouis Pieri Owner
2010 Kilpatrick, MacgregorMacgregor Kilpatrick Owner
2010 Paddock, JohnJohn Paddock Coach
2010 Paille, MarcelMarcel Paille G
2010 Sweeney, BillBill Sweeney C
2011 Lamoureux, MitchMitch Lamoureux F
2011 Pidhirny, HarryHarry Pidhirny F
2011 Podoloff, MauriceMaurice Podoloff Executive
2011 Wilson, LarryLarry Wilson F / Coach

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.

2013 AHL ASG Logo

But as of recent years the AHL plays its All-Star Game in a similiar format to the NHL, Western vs. Eastern All-Stars.

Date Arena City Winners Score Losers Score
January 28, 2013 Dunkin' Donuts Center Providence, Rhode Island West All-Stars 7 East All-Stars 6
January 30, 2012 Boardwalk Hall Atlantic City, NJ West All-Stars 8 East All-Stars 7 (SO)
January 31, 2011 Giant Center Hershey, PA East All-Stars 11 West All-Stars 8
January 19, 2010 Cumberland County Civic Center Portland, ME Canada 10 PlanetUSA 9 (SO)
January 26, 2009 DCU Center Worcester, MA PlanetUSA 14 Canada 11
January 28, 2008 Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena Binghamton, NY Canada 9 PlanetUSA 8 (SO)
January 29, 2007 Ricoh Coliseum Toronto, ON PlanetUSA 7 Canada 6
February 1, 2006 MTS Centre Winnipeg, MB Canada 9 PlanetUSA 4
February 14, 2005 Verizon Wireless Arena Manchester, NH PlanetUSA 5 Canada 4 (SO)
February 9, 2004 Van Andel Arena Grand Rapids, MI Canada 9 PlanetUSA 5
February 3, 2003 Cumberland County Civic Center Portland, ME Canada 10 PlanetUSA 7
February 14, 2002 Mile One Stadium St. John's, NF Canada 13 PlanetUSA 11
January 15, 2001 First Union Arena at Casey Plaza Wilkes-Barre, PA Canada 11 PlanetUSA 10
January 17, 2000 Blue Cross Arena Rochester, NY Canada 8 PlanetUSA 3
January 25, 1999 First Union Center Philadelphia, PA PlanetUSA 5 Canada 4 (OT/SO)
February 11, 1998 Onondaga War Memorial Syracuse, NY Canada 11 PlanetUSA 10
January 16, 1997 Harbour Station Saint John, NB World 3 Canada 2 (OT/SO)
January 16, 1996 Hersheypark Arena Hershey, PA USA 6 Canada 5
January 17, 1995 Providence Civic Center Providence, RI Canada 6 USA 4
December 10, 1959 Eastern States Coliseum West Springfield, MA Springfield Indians 8 AHL All-Stars 3
January 15, 1959 Hershey Sports Arena Hershey, PA Hershey Bears 5 AHL All-Stars 2
October 6, 1957 Rochester Community War Memorial Rochester, NY AHL All-Stars 5 Cleveland Barons 2
October 23, 1956 Rhode Island Auditorium Providence, RI Providence Reds 4 AHL All-Stars 0
January 10, 1956 Duquesne Gardens Pittsburgh, PA 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 Arena Cleveland, OH East All-Stars 5 West All-Stars 4


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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