SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors, convening this week for its Annual Meeting in Hilton Head Island, S.C., has approved the following division alignment for the 2011-12 AHL season (NHL affiliates in parentheses):
Manchester Monarchs (LA)
Portland Pirates (PHX)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
St. John’s (WPG)
Worcester Sharks (SJ)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL)
Lake Erie Monsters (COL)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Chicago Wolves (VAN)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Peoria Rivermen (STL)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)
Abbotsford Heat (CGY)
Houston Aeros (MIN)
Oklahoma City Barons (EDM)
San Antonio Rampage (FLA)
Texas Stars (DAL)
The format for the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs was also approved by the Board of Governors. Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth.
The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.
The regular-season schedule format is still to be determined, and the complete playing schedule for the 2011-12 regular season, which begins Oct. 7, will be announced later this summer.
In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 10th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2010-11.
This is a bit of a funky realignment in terms of terminology…
Because the greatest concentration of the AHL teams are really all in the eastern part of the US and Canada, hearing that teams like Rochester, Toronto, Lake Erie, Hamilton and Charlotte are in the Western Conference is a bit on the bizarre side.
Want to feel sorry for someone, Abbotsford is near NOBODY. They’ll be on more planes than some Presidential candidates. Charlotte also has a harsh travel schedule also.
As for the playoff format, it’s essentially the NHL plan with a twist, and that’s the realignment after each round to keep the highest seed playing the lowest.
Other than that, it looks pretty good…