Early this afternoon the Central Hockey League & the International Hockey League today announced a plan merger that will make a "AA" Super Professional Hockey League that is scheduled to start play in the 2010-2011 season.
This means the league will be going from 13 to 19 teams as the Amarillo Gorillas & Corpus Christi Icerays recently announced to leave the league in favor of going to the Junior Route to play in the North American Hockey League.
From the Central Hockey League & International Hockey League Websites: www.centralhockeyleague.com www.ihl-hockey.com
In a joint announcement that marks a historic day for minor professional hockey, two of pro hockey's most storied leagues, the Central Hockey League (CHL) and the International Hockey League (IHL), have entered into a letter of intent to form a "AA" level super league beginning in the 2010-2011 season. We plan to under the under the Central Hockey League, CHL, moniker, with the identity of the IHL being maintained through various aspects that will be announced in the near future. Leaders of the CHL & IHL will meet during the week ahead to work out the remaining material terms.
"The arrangement between the CHL & the IHL should create an innovate and exciting "AA" level of professional hockey league which is scheduled to start playing in the 2010-2011 season," said Dennis Hextall, IHL Commissioner. "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 in the higher leagues."
"This is an exciting day for our teams and markets," said Dane Lewis, CHL Commissioner. "Both leagues have worked hard to est. tremendous entrainment at a great value for their fans, and by combining our resources we believe we can strengthen those efforts by providing greater fan interest as well as a stronger brand."
Operating guidelines, including the teams competing in the CHL, divisional alignment, the 2010-2011 regular season schedule and various hockey operations issues will be discussed at the CHL Summer Conference (League Meetings) occurring June 3-5 in Gilbert, Arizona and will continue at the IHL Meetings in Las Vegas on June 21-23.
The CHL Competed with 15 teams during the 2009-2010 season with the Rapid City Rush taking home the Ray Miron Presidents Cup Title, while the IHL competed with seven teams with the Ft. Wayne Komets winning their seventh Turner Cup Title and third straight league championship.
This will be the 19th season for the CHL whose teams cover nine states. The leagues saw close to 2 million fans attend games in each of the last two seasons and has regularly been the North American professional hockey league leader in average attendance. This season, the CHL was the top "AA" hockey league in playoff attendance. In the league's history, a total of 88 players have both played in the National Hockey League and in the CHL.
The 2010-2011 season will mark the 60th year of professional hockey for the International Hockey League, which was comprised last season of 7 teams in the Midwest states of Michigan Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. More then 900,00 fans attended IHL Games this past season, and a sell-out crowd of 10,480 fans watched the Ft. Wayne Komets win the 2010 IHL Turner Cup over the Flint Generals at the Coliseum last month. Nine players who played on IHL Teams had past NHL Experience, while many more have played for their respective national teams and professionally abroad. IHL Commissioner, Dennis Hextall, spent more then ten years as a player in the National Hockey League, and serves as president of the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association.
2010-2011 Expected line up for the Central Hockey League
Rapid City Rush (Defending CHL Champions)
Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
Ft. Wayne Komets (Defending IHL Champions)
Port Huron Icehawks
Bloomington Prairie Thunder
Quad City Mallards
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