AHL Introduces New Playoff Format

By Andrew Bourgeois


The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors have approved a new Calder Cup playoff format to accommodate the league’s recent expansion to 27 teams.
The new playoff format allows for the top 10 teams in each Conference to qualify for the post-season.
In a significant move to speed up the pace of the game, the AHL has unanimously adopted the faceoff procedures currently employed by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

This procedure will see line changes completed, and play resumed within 15 seconds of the previous stoppage of play. The league’s Board of Governors also approved a proposal to move to a fixed playing roster of 17 skaters and two goaltenders for the 2001-02 regular season.

The American Hockey League is the top development league for the NHL. Each of the NHL’s 30 clubs will develop their top prospects in the AHL during the 2001-02 season.
During the 2000-01 season, 247 players competed in both the AHL and NHL, while 70% of all players to competed in the NHL last season spent time developing their skills in the AHL.

The American Hockey League will be divided into two (2) Conferences:

WEST Houston Utah Chicago Grand Rapids Milwaukee
CENTRAL Rochester Syracuse Cincinnati Cleveland
SOUTH Philadelphia Hershey Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Norfolk

EAST Albany Hartford Springfield Providence Bridgeport
NORTH Lowell Worcester Portland Manchester Manitoba
CANADIAN Hamilton St. John’s Saint John Quebec

At the conclusion of the schedule of championship games, the top 10 teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conference will qualify for the playoffs.

The first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs will consist of the 7th place team in each conference playing the 10th place team, and the 8th place team playing the 9th place team. These series will be in a best-of-three format with all games at the home of the higher seed.

The second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs will consist of the first place team in each division, the next three best teams in each conference based on regular season point totals, and the first round winners.

The three division winners in each conference will be seeded first, second, and third for the balance of the conference playoffs and the next five teams, in order of points, will be seeded fourth through eighth. In each conference, the matchups will be 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, and 4 vs 5 in the quarterfinal round.

Home-ice in the Conference quarterfinals is granted to those teams seeded first through fourth in each conference.
In the Conference semifinals and Conference finals, higher seeded teams will have home ice advantage. Division winners maintain their seed throughout the conference playoffs. Home-ice advantage in the Calder Cup finals will be determined by points.

The first round shall be two out of three games. Conference quarterfinals shall be three out of five games. Conference semifinals through the finals will be best-of-seven series.

Colorado’s Head Coach, Bob Hartley, who led the Avalanche to the Western Conference championship in just his first year behind their bench, won a Calder Cup Championship with the Hershey Bears in 1997.

July 16, 1981 The Vancouver Canucks acquire the rights to Ivan Hilinka and Jiri Bubla from the Winnipeg Jets for Brent Ashton and a draft choice.