International Hockey League (1945-2001)
|Country(ies)|| United States
|Most championships||Toledo Blades /
Toledo Goaldiggers (6)
The International Hockey League (IHL) was a minor professional ice hockey league in the United States and Canada from 1945 to 2001. The IHL served as the National Hockey League's alternate farm system to the American Hockey League (AHL). After 56 years of operation, financial instability led to the league's demise. Six surviving teams merged into the AHL in 2001.
The IHL was formed in December 1945 and initially consisted of four cross-border teams in Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. In 1947, a team from Toledo, Ohio joined the league, and the following year the IHL expanded significantly, with teams in four additional U.S. cities. The expansion did not take hold, and for 1949–50, the league was back down to teams in Detroit and Windsor as well as two nearby Canadian cities, Sarnia, Ontario and Chatham, Ontario. Windsor dropped out in 1950, and expansion into the U.S. began again, with Toledo rejoining the league and new teams in Grand Rapids, Michigan (1950), Troy, Ohio, (1951), Cincinnati (1952), Fort Wayne, Indiana (1952), and Milwaukee (1952). At the same time, the last Canadian team left the league in 1952, when the Chatham Maroons pulled out. Three new U.S. cities were added in 1953. The league would expand and shrink between five and nine teams through the 1950s, with another major expansion in 1959. In the 1962–63 season, the IHL played an interlocking schedule with the NHL-owned Eastern Professional Hockey League, which itself folded in 1963. After 11 seasons as a strictly U.S.-based league, the IHL admitted two Canadian teams in 1963, with the Windsor Bulldogs and the return of the Chatham Maroons. Both teams dropped out after one season, however, and the league would not have a Canadian team again until 1996.
Starting in the late 1960s, the IHL's quality of play significantly upgraded until by the mid-1970s, it was on par with the American Hockey League (AHL), the longtime top feeder league for the National Hockey League. Many IHL teams became the top farm teams of NHL teams. In 1984, the league swallowed up many surviving members of the Central Hockey League, which had ceased operations.
From the late 1980s on, the IHL began to expand into major markets, such as Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis - Saint Paul, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, and San Francisco. It even placed teams in markets that already had NHL teams, such as Chicago, Detroit, and Long Beach (near Los Angeles). In the mid-1990s, the IHL moved its Atlanta and Minneapolis – Saint Paul franchises to Quebec City and Winnipeg respectively, restoring the league's Canadian presence and trying to fill the void left in those two cities by the departure of the NHL's Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. Even the Minneapolis – Saint Paul team was an effort to place a professional hockey franchise in a market that an NHL team (in this case the Minnesota North Stars) had deserted.
The league's expansion into larger markets was rapid, spearheaded by media mogul Ted Turner, and many of the smaller-market teams (such as Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo) fell away, joining lower-level leagues such as the United Hockey League or the East Coast Hockey League.
The IHL's expansion into NHL markets put a strain on relationships between the leagues. There was some speculation that the IHL would end up competing directly with the NHL, especially when a lock-out in 1994 threatened to wipe out the NHL season. However, in the 1995-96 season, the IHL's "soft" salary cap was just $1.5 million, while the lowest NHL team payroll that season was $11.4 million.
In response, many NHL clubs shifted their affiliations to the AHL. In 1997–98, only four of 18 IHL teams had NHL affiliations. With the loss of subsidized salaries, high expansion fees (by the end the league was charging as much as $8 million US for new teams), exploding travel costs and the NHL itself moving into some of its markets, the league's rapid expansion proved a critical strain, and it folded after the 2001 season.
Six IHL franchises (the Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Houston Aeros, Utah Grizzlies, Milwaukee Admirals and Manitoba Moose) were admitted into the AHL as expansion teams for the 2001-02 season, and then among them won the next three AHL Calder Cup championships (2002, 2003, 2004) and appeared in the Cup Finals in the next two years (2005, 2006). The IHL's last champions, the Orlando Solar Bears, were not taken in because their owner, Rich DeVos, also owned the Griffins.
|Turner Cup||1945–2001||League playoff champions.|
|Fred A. Huber Trophy||1945–2001||Regular season champions.|
|Commissioner's Trophy||1984–2001||Coach of the Year.|
|Leo P. Lamoureux Memorial Trophy||1946–2001||Top point scorer.
Known as "George H. Wilkinson Trophy" (1946-1960).
|James Gatschene Memorial Trophy||1946–2001||MVP / Sportmanship.|
|Norman R. "Bud" Poile Trophy||1988–2001||Playoffs MVP.|
|Gary F. Longman Memorial Trophy||1961–2001||Rookie of the Year.
Known as "Leading Rookie Award" (1961-1967).
|Ken McKenzie Trophy||1977–2001||American-born Rookie of the Year.|
|Governor's Trophy||1964–2001||Best defenseman.
Known as "Larry D. Gordon Trophy" (1998-2001).
|James Norris Memorial Trophy||1955–2001||Goaltenders with lowest GAA.|
|John Cullen Award||1996–2001||Comeback Player of the Year.
Known as "Comeback Player of the Year Award" (1996-1998).
|Ironman Award||1988–2001||Durability / Longevity.|
|IHL Man of the Year||1992–2001||Outstanding community service.
Also known as "I. John Snider, II Trophy."
|Team name(s)||Years of
|1945||Detroit Auto Club||1945–1951||6|
|1945||Detroit Bright's Goodyears||1945–1949||4|
Windsor Ryan Cretes
Windsor Hettche Spitfires
|1946||Detroit Metal Mouldings
Detroit Jerry Lynch
|14||Played in North and South divisions (1948–1949).
Played as Toledo Buckeyes (EAHL) (1949–50).
Played as Toledo-Marion Mercurys (1955–1956).
Played as Toledo-St. Louis Mercurys (1959–1960).
|1948||Louisville Blades||1948–1949||1||Transferred to USHL in 1949.|
|1948||Milwaukee Clarks||1948–1949||1||Transferred to EAHL in 1949.|
|1949||Sarnia Sailors||1949–1951||2||Transferred to OHA Sr. A in 1951.|
|4||Played in OHA Sr. A (1952–1963).|
|1950||Grand Rapids Rockets
|1952||Cincinnati Mohawks||1952–1958||6||Transferred from AHL in 1952.|
|1952||Fort Wayne Komets
|39||Original Fort Wayne Komets replaced in 1990 by relocated Flint Spirits franchise.|
|1953||Johnstown Jets||1953–1955||2||Transferred from EAHL in 1953
Transferred to EHL in 1955.
|1953||Louisville Shooting Stars||1953–1954||1|
|1959||Milwaukee Falcons||1959–1960||2||Ceased operations November 26, 1960 during second season.|
|4||Denver relocated mid-season to Minneapolis on December 3, 1959.|
|1959||Omaha Knights||1959–1963||4||Transferred to Central Professional Hockey League in 1963.|
|1959||St. Paul Saints||1959–1963||4|
|1962||Port Huron Flags
Port Huron Wings
Port Huron Flags
|1963||Des Moines Oak Leafs
Des Moines Capitols
|1963||Windsor Bulldogs||1963–1964||1||Transferred from OHA Sr. A in 1963.|
|14||Team on hiatus from 1977–1979.|
Columbus Golden Seals
Grand Rapids Owls
|23||Franchise on hiatus from 1970–71. Dayton relocated mid-season to Grand Rapids on December 15, 1977.|
|1977||Milwaukee Admirals||1977–2001||24||Transferred from USHL in 1977.
Transferred to AHL in 2001.
San Antonio Dragons
|1984||Salt Lake Golden Eagles
|17||Transferred from CHL in 1984.|
|13||Transferred from CHL in 1984.|
Fort Wayne Komets
|14||Transferred to UHL in 1999.|
|1988||Indianapolis Ice||1988–1999||11||Transferred to CHL in 1999.|
|1990||Kansas City Blades||1990–2001||11|
|1990||San Diego Gulls
Los Angeles Ice Dogs
Long Beach Ice Dogs
|10||Transferred to WCHL in 2000.|
|1993||Las Vegas Thunder||1993–1999||6|
|1993||Russian Penguins||1993–1994||1||Touring Russian team.|
|1994||Chicago Wolves||1994–2001||7||Transferred to AHL in 2001.|
|1994||Houston Aeros||1994–2001||7||Transferred to AHL in 2001.|
|7||Transferred to AHL in 2001.|
|7||Transferred to AHL in 2001.|
|1995||Orlando Solar Bears||1995–2001||6|
|1995||San Francisco Spiders||1995–1996||1|
|1996||Grand Rapids Griffins||1996–2001||5||Transferred to AHL in 2001.|
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at International Hockey League (1945-2001). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|
|North American Minor Professional leagues|
|American Hockey League • Central Hockey League • Colonial Hockey League • ECHL • Eastern Professional Hockey League • International Hockey League (1945-2001) • International Hockey League (2007-) • Pacific Coast Hockey League (1933-1941) • Quebec Hockey League • South East Hockey League • Southern Hockey League (1995-1996) • Southern Professional Hockey League • Sunshine Hockey League • West Coast Hockey League • Western Hockey League (minor pro) • Edinburgh Trophy • Eastern Hockey League •|