The American Hockey League is a 30-team professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League. Twenty-seven AHL teams are located in the United States and the three 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 of the NHL. The reigning champions are the Lake Erie Monsters, the AHL traces its origins directly to two predecessor professional leagues, the Canadian-American Hockey League, founded in 1926, and the first International Hockey League, established in 1929. With both leagues down to the minimum in membership, the governors of each recognized the need for action to assure their member clubs long-term survival. Their solution was to play an interlocking schedule, while the Can-Am was based in the Northeast and the IHL in the Great Lakes and Midwest, their footprints were close enough for this to be a viable option. The two older leagues eight surviving clubs began joint play in November 1936 as a new circuit of mutual convenience known as the International-American Hockey League. The four Can-Am teams became the I-AHL East Division, with the IHL quartet playing as the West Division. The IHL also contributed its former championship trophy, the F. G. Teddy Oke Trophy, the Oke Trophy is now awarded to the regular-season winners of the AHLs Northeast Division. A little more than a month into that first season, the balance, the makeshift new I-AHL played out the rest of its first season with just seven teams. At the end of the 1936–37 season, a modified playoff format was devised and a new championship trophy. The Syracuse Stars defeated the Philadelphia Ramblers in the final, three-games-to-one, the Calder Cup continues on today as the AHLs playoff championship 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, maurice Podoloff of New Haven, the former head of the Can-Am League, was elected the I-AHLs first president. The former IHL president, John Chick of Windsor, Ontario, the Bears remain the only one of these eight original I-AHL/AHL franchises to have been represented in the league without interruption since the 1938–39 season. The newly merged circuit also increased its schedule for each team by six games from 48 to 54. After the 1939–40 season the I-AHL renamed itself the American Hockey League and it generally enjoyed both consistent success on the ice and relative financial stability over its first three decades of operation. The number of teams competing for players rose from six to thirty in just seven years. Player salaries at all levels shot up dramatically with the increased demand and this did not seem to affect the AHL at first, as it expanded to 12 teams by 1970
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, Pennsylvania.
Image: "Hershey in Hockey League" (from The Philadelphia Record, 6 29 1938)
The alternate logo of the AHL.
Team locations and divisional alignment in the 2014–15 season prior to the franchise relocations