The American Hockey League (AHL) is a professional hockey league in North America, that serves as the primary developmental circuit for the National Hockey League (NHL). All 30 NHL teams have either exclusive or joint affiliation agreements with one or more of the AHL's 29 active clubs.
The League offices are located in Springfield, Massachusetts. The AHL's current president is David Andrews. Until the early 1990s, the headquarters were located in West Springfield, Massachusetts, along with charter member franchise, the Springfield Indians.
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.
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.
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.
To be added.
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