Original AHL Teams
Even if you’ve been following the AHL for years and know all of the current teams, you might not know the teams that played in the league’s very first season in 1936. The AHL has a long history, and many teams have come and gone over the seasons. Not only does the AHL have nearly nine decades of history, but the original teams date back even further than the league itself. While many of the league’s first teams folded long before the WBS Penguins entered the AHL, some were the start of franchises that have carried on to today.
Are you curious to learn more about the original AHL teams from the league’s early days? Here’s more information about the first teams who played in the league.
The AHL’s East Division in the league’s first season consisted of teams from the former Canadian-American Hockey League, which existed from 1926 until 1936.
The Philadelphia Ramblers existed from 1935 until 1941 and were the affiliate team to the New York Rangers. Before this, the franchise was known as the Philadelphia Arrows. The franchise played one more season in the AHL as the Philadelphia Rockets during the 1941-42 season before folding.
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Springfield Indians have had a long history in the AHL. The franchise first began in 1926 and still exists in the AHL today. The Springfield Indians had no NHL affiliate team for its first several seasons until it later became the affiliate of the New York Americans. Since then, the franchise has been affiliated with multiple NHL teams. The franchise has switched cities and teams multiple times over the years, and now plays as one of the newest AHL teams, the Abbotsford Canucks.
The Providence Reds, an affiliate of the Boston Bruins, have had a long tenure as a team in the AHL. The team began in 1926 and continued until 1976, after which they played for one season as the Rhode Island Reds. The franchise still plays in the AHL today as the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Atlantic Division with the WBS Penguins.
New Haven Eagles
The New Haven Eagles were founded in 1926 and played until 1943, when they suspended operations due to World War II. They came back to the AHL for the 1945-46 season following the war, and the franchise became the New Haven Ramblers from 1946 until 1950. The franchise reverted to the New Haven Eagles again for the 1950-51 season until the franchise folded.
The West Division of the AHL consisted of teams from the International Hockey League, which operated from 1929 until 1936.
The Syracuse Stars began playing in the AHL as the affiliate team to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Prior to this, the franchise was known as the Hamilton Tigers since its founding in 1926. The Syracuse Stars were the first winners of the Calder Cup and won the F. G. “Teddy” Oke Trophy as West Division champions in the AHL’s first season. The team existed until 1940, after which the franchise became the Buffalo Bisons, which replaced the original Buffalo Bisons in the area.
The first AHL season in 1936 was also the first season for the Pittsburgh Hornets. Prior to this, the franchise operated as the Detroit Olympics, which was founded in 1927. The Pittsburgh Hornets began playing in the AHL as the affiliate team to the Detroit Red Wings. The team had a five-year hiatus from 1956 until 1961 when Renaissance I, Pittsburgh’s urban renewal project, left them without a stadium. After their hiatus, they continued playing in the AHL until 1967.
The Cleveland Falcons began playing in 1934 and were previously known as the Cleveland Indians since the franchise was founded in 1929. They had no NHL affiliate and were renamed the Cleveland Barons from 1937 until 1973. The franchise played for one more season as the Jacksonville Barons following this and folded in 1974.
The original Buffalo Bisons only lasted for one season in the AHL before folding due to financial troubles. The team was founded in 1928 and had no NHL affiliate.
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The AHL has come a long way since it first began with eight teams in 1936. While the AHL has a long past, there’s always much more to look forward to. There are still many games left in the 2022-23 AHL season to come out and support the WBS Penguins.
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