AA “Super League” Set to Operate Under CHL Name
Phoenix, Ariz. (Tuesday, June 1, 2010) – A major announcement came today in the world of minor league hockey, with the Central Hockey League (CHL) and International Hockey League (IHL) stating that negotiations are underway to unify the two groups into a AA-level “super league.” The newly designed league, which will operate under the CHL moniker, is set to drop the puck this October in its first season of play as a single institution of the sport.
“This is an exciting day for our teams and markets,” CHL Commissioner Duane Lewis said of the union. “Both leagues have worked hard to establish tremendous entertainment at a great value for their fans, and by combining our resources we believe we can strengthen those efforts providing greater fan interest as well as a stronger brand.”
15 teams over nine states composed the CHL this past season, which was the league’s 19th year of operation. The Rapid City Rush emerged as league champions in May after defeating the Allen Americans in six games to win the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup.
“The arrangement between the CHL and the IHL should create an innovative and exciting AA-level professional hockey league which is scheduled to start play in the 2010-2011 season,” IHL Commissioner Dennis Hextall stated. “The two leagues each have longstanding histories and share the common goal of solidifying minor professional hockey for our players, our passionate fans and their communities. I believe this arrangement will enable our teams to recruit the best young talent to join our league, with the potential of improving their game and moving up to the higher leagues.”
The IHL played with seven teams over four Midwestern states in 2009-10, and the league office had been based out of Rochester, Michigan. The Fort Wayne Komets won a third straight Turner Cup Championship this past May after knocking off the Flint Generals in five games in the IHL Finals.
Various details about the formation of the reformed CHL will be discussed this week when the league begins its summer meetings in Arizona from Thursday through Saturday. Topics such as divisional alignment and scheduling are among the biggest topics on the agenda for CHL officials. More finalization of league operations is expected when the league reconvenes its talks from June 23-25th in Las Vegas.
While professional hockey does not formally operate under the same type of A-class designation that minor league baseball does, the Eastern Professional Hockey League (ECHL) is often referred to as the top AA-level professional hockey league. However, time will soon tell how the new CHL will change the landscape of minor league hockey.
The American Hockey League (AHL) is what many regard as the “AAA-level” affiliate of the National Hockey League (NHL) and its players union.