American hockey league
- 14 things to know about it
The AHL was founded in 1936 and is currently North America's top professional hockey league outside the National Hockey League (NHL).
The league consists of 31 teams, with most teams located in the United States and a few in Canada.
The AHL serves as the primary development league for the NHL, with many young players starting their careers in the AHL before being called up to the NHL.
The AHL has a salary cap set at $90,000 per player for the 2021-2022 season.
The league has two conferences (Eastern and Western) and four divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, and Pacific).
The regular season typically runs from October to April, comprising 76 games.
The top four teams from each division qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs, a single-elimination tournament to determine the AHL champion.
The league's most successful franchise is the Hershey Bears, which won 11 Calder Cup championships.
Many current NHL stars, including Patrick Kane, Carey Price, and Claude Giroux, began their careers in the AHL.
The AHL also serves as a training ground for referees and linesmen who go on to work in the NHL.
The league has experimented with various rule changes over the years, including wider rinks and shootouts to decide tied games.
In 2018, the league expanded to include a team in Colorado Springs, Colorado, called the Colorado Eagles.
The AHL has a strong fan base, with an average attendance of over 6,000 fans per game in the 2019-2020 season.
The AHL has a long history of promoting diversity and inclusion, with initiatives such as the "Hockey Is For Everyone" campaign, which aims to make the sport more accessible to underrepresented communities.