The alternate logo of the AHL. In ahl affiliations, a player must be at least 18 years of age to play in the AHL or not currently be beholden to a junior ice hockey team. The reigning champions are the Toronto Marlies. 1926, and the first International Hockey League, established in 1929.
With both leagues down to the bare 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. A little more than a month into that first season, the balance and symmetry of the new combined circuit suffered a setback when its membership unexpectedly fell to seven teams. 37 season, a modified three-round playoff format was devised and a new championship trophy, the Calder Cup, was established.
The Syracuse Stars defeated the Philadelphia Ramblers in the final, three-games-to-one, to win the first-ever Calder Cup championship. The Calder Cup continues on today as the AHL’s 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, and agreed that it was time to formally consolidate. Maurice Podoloff of New Haven, the former head of the Can-Am League, was elected the I-AHL’s first president. 40 season the I-AHL renamed itself the American Hockey League. It generally enjoyed both consistent success on the ice and relative financial stability over its first three decades of operation. This did not seem to affect the AHL at first, as it expanded to 12 teams by 1970.
However, to help compensate for the rise in player salaries, many NHL clubs cut 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, half of the AHL’s teams folded from 1974 to 1977. The AHL appeared in serious danger of folding altogether if this downward trend was not reversed. However, two events in the fall of 1977 helped reverse the trend. 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 playoff titles in each of that club’s first two seasons of operation.