The History of the International Hockey League
The IHL was created Dec. 5, 1945 in a three-hour meeting at the Norton Palmer Hotel in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Present at the meeting were: Jack Adams, General Manager and Coach of the Detroit Red Wings; Fred Huber, Jr., the Red Wings public relations director; Frank Gallagher, who eventually would own the Flint Generals and also serve two terms as league commissioner; Lloyd Pollock, a member of the executive staff of the Ontario Hockey Association; Gerald McHugh, a well-known Windsor lawyer; and Len Hebert, Len Loree and Bill Beckman, all dedicated hockey men.
The IHL was to provide opportunities for Detroit-Windsor hockey players returning home from World War II. Four teams were formed to absorb these fledging athletes: Detroit Auto Club and Detroit Bright's Goodyear would play at Olympia Stadium in Detroit, while the Windsor Spitfires and the Windsor Gotfredsons would play their home games in the Windsor Arena.
McHugh was named league president, and the four teams completed a 15-game schedule during the winter of 1945-46. The Detroit Auto Club defeated the Detroit Bright's Goodyears 2-1 in the final series to win the first Turner Cup, symbolic of the IHL championship.
The league's first expansion outside the Detroit-Windsor area came in 1947, when businessman Virgil Gladieux paid $1,000 to place a franchise in Toledo, Ohio. The Toledo Mercurys drew sellout crowds, and won the league championship in their first season. Gerald McHugh retired the following season, and was succeeded by Fred Huber, Jr., who had the title of league managing director.
The four original franchises were gone from the IHL by 1952, but the league had grown to nine teams. Expansion in 1952-53 extended to Fort Wayne, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Louisville. The 1952-53 season would be the first of five consecutive league championships for the Cincinnati Mohawks. The team's success was largely the result of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens, who supplied the Mohawks with many young prospects. The Mohawks set a league record in 1956-57 by losing only nine games during the entire regular season.
The IHL went through changes on and off the ice during the 1960's. Six different clubs won the championship, including back-to-back crowns by the Saint Paul Saints. All of the league's franchises were located in the U.S. after the discontinuation of the Chatham Maroons and the Windsor Bulldogs in 1964. League membership varied from six to eight teams, and Toledo hockey executive Andy Mulligan succeeded Frank Gallagher as commissioner. There was one certainty, however, throughout the decade: Komets forward Len Thornson, who won seven Most Valuable Player awards over a 10-year period.
The 1970's were a period of stabilization for the league. Bill Beagan was named commissioner and held the position throughout the decade. Current franchises in Kalamazoo (now Michigan K-Wings) and Milwaukee joined the IHL. Franchises in Dayton and Toledo won titles early in the decade, and Kalamazoo ended it by winning consecutive championships in 1978 and 1979. One of top memories of that period came in 1975 when the Toledo Goaldiggers won the Turner Cup, despite finishing the regular season with a losing record. That decade began the leadership of the IHL's longest-standing ownership group as Ted and Martha Parfet founded their Kalamazoo-based franchise in 1974-75."
The national growth of the IHL can be traced to the expansion of the early 1980's. Peoria was admitted in 1982, and Indianapolis rejoined the league two years later. Upon the strong encouragement of Commissioner N.R. 'Bud' Poile, who was appointed in 1983, the league added a franchise in Salt Lake City for the 1984-85 season, beginning the transition from a regional league which traveled by bus, to one with markets throughout the country. Another breakthrough came in 1985 with the adoption of the shootout, a unique tie-breaker format to decide its games, an innovation that is one reason the IHL is distinguished from other professional hockey leagues.
Stability and growth continued with N. Thomas Berry, who was appointed commissioner in 1989. Under Berry's leadership, the league added seven new cities and fees for expansion franchises rose from $200,000 to $5 million in five years.
The IHL has made tremendous advances in more than half-century of operation, but some things remain similar to the league's origins: The league's business offices are now located in new offices in suburban Detroit headed by President and CEO Doug Moss, who was appointed in July, 1998 after serving as the league's chief operating officer for nine months. And, an IHL team is in the area, as the Detroit Vipers draw record crowds in the wonderful surroundings at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Detroit is just one of several markets who have enjoyed their introduction to the modern era of the IHL. Major cities like Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Kansas City, Long Beach, Milwaukee, Orlando and Salt Lake City are also proud to host franchises in first-class facilities. Likewise, the IHL has found success in medium-sized communities as witnessed by the Grand Rapids Griffins who debuted in 1996-97, packing the sparkling new Van Andel Arena with sellout crowds night after night. Part of the IHL's charm also lies in the continued success of the franchise based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where fans have seen the league undergo its various advancements.
For the third straight year, the season will begin with a new champion. The Houston Aeros dominated regular season play, continued their winning ways into the postseason and captured their first Turner Cup last spring. They face a revamped league with a comparable mix of veterans and youth that will make repeating as champions a more daunting task.
From the President (Douglas G. Moss)
Dear IHL Fans:
As the International Hockey League begins its 56th year, we are looking forward to the excitement of the upcoming season. First of all, I would like to thank you for your support of the IHL. Last year, the IHL led all of minor league hockey in average attendance for the 11th straight season, a feat impossible without the backing of our great fans across North America.
Our commitment to improve the quality of our on-ice product has grown each year, with last season our most successful yet. This season will be even better. The revised overtime format will make the games exciting right down to the final seconds. Should a pre-season or regular season IHL game be tied after three periods of play, the teams will compete in a five-minute, sudden death, four-on-four, overtime period. If at the end of the extra session the teams remain tied, there will be a shoot-out with three shooters a side, followed by, if necessary, a "sudden-death" shoot-out.
We've also added two new NHL affiliations. The first-year Minnesota Wild is teaming up with the Cleveland Lumberjacks. The Kansas City Blades are serving as the primary affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars also have a new IHL affiliation with the Utah Grizzlies.
Our league is continuing its partnership with the National Hockey League, aiming to jointly promote the sport of ice hockey. The Game On! logo will once again be visible throughout our marketing and promotions.
Our teams take pride in their involvement within their respective communities and will continue their efforts to raise money for local charities throughout the league. And I assure you that all of us are committed to continue to provide you with the best hockey product, second only to the NHL, at family affordable prices.
In the upcoming months we will be creating new ways to entertain and inform you about out players and teams. We will be working even harder to earn your loyalty. Please e-mail me a firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how we're doing. I look forward to your comments.
Once again, thanks you for your support of the International Hockey League, and I wish you, your families and your favorite IHL team a healthy and successful season.
Best regards, Douglas G. Moss
President & CEO
Dec. 5, 1945 -- The International Hockey League is born at the Norton Palmer Hotel in Windsor, Ontario. The league is formed by Jack Adams, general manager of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings; Red Wings public relations director Fred Huber; Frank Gallagher and Gerald McHugh. McHugh is named the league's first president.
March 2, 1946 -- The Detroit Auto Club wins the first-ever Turner Cup, defeating the Detroit Bright's Goodyears two games to one.
Summer, 1947 -- Virgil Gladieux purchases an expansion franchise for Toledo, Ohio for $1,000, the league's first expansion outside of the Detroit-Windsor area.
April, 1949 -- Fred Huber is named league managing director.
June, 1952 -- Frank Gallagher is named first commissioner of the league. The position, formerly held by Fred Huber, was formerly known as the managing director.
Sept., 1952 -- The Fort Wayne Komets join the IHL at a cost of $2,500 (the Komets are the oldest active franchise in the IHL).
Jan. 25, 1953 -- The Cincinnati Mohawks and the Troy (Ohio) Bruins play the league's only known doubleheader with one game played in each city. In the first game at Troy, Cincinnati wins 3-0; the Bruins won the nightcap in Cincinnati by a score of 2-1.
March 25, 1957 -- The Cincinnati Mohawks capture an IHL record fifth consecutive Turner Cup, sweeping the Indianapolis Chiefs in a best-of-five series.
April 14, 1960 -- Fort Wayne and the Saint Paul Saints play four overtimes to decide a Turner Cup Finals game. Saint Paul's Elliott Chorley scores the deciding goal at 1:25 a.m. for a 5-4 victory in a contest which consisted of 118 minutes, 29 seconds of playing time.
Jan. 4, 1962 -- The IHL holds its first official All-Star Game in Saint Paul, Minn. The host Saints defeated a league all-star team 6-5.
Jan. 17, 1962 -- The Saint Paul Saints win the most lopsided game in IHL history, a 20-3 drubbing of the Toledo Mercurys.
Feb. 6, 1962 -- Chick Chalmers of the Omaha Knights completes a 40-game point streak during which he scored 18 goals and 46 assists. The streak started on Nov. 12, 1961.
June, 1962 -- Andy Mulligan becomes the league's second commissioner, succeeding Frank Gallagher.
March, 1964 -- The Chatham Maroons and Windsor Bulldogs cease operations, leaving the IHL based solely in the United States.
June, 1969 -- Bill Beagan becomes the league's third commissioner, succeeding Andy Mulligan.
June, 1974 -- Ted and Martha Parfet purchase an IHL franchise for Kalamazoo, Mich. The franchise, now known as the Michigan K-Wings, is the oldest currently in the league.
Dec., 1978 -- Bill Beagan resigns as commissioner. Former commissioner Frank Gallagher assumes the post on an interim basis.
June, 1979 -- Jack Riley becomes the league's fourth commissioner, replacing interim commissioner Frank Gallagher.
June, 1983 -- N.R. "Bud" Poile becomes the fifth commissioner in league history, replacing Jack Riley; the IHL headquarters relocates from Windsor to Indianapolis.
June, 1984 -- The IHL accepts Salt Lake and Indianapolis as the league's eighth and ninth franchises.
Summer, 1985 -- The IHL becomes the first professional league to use a shootout to decide tied games.
June 1, 1989 -- N. Thomas Berry, Jr. named league commissioner, replacing N.R. "Bud" Poile.
Fall, 1989 -- The Phoenix Roadrunners enter the IHL.
Fall, 1990 -- The IHL begins the 1990-91 season with a record 11 teams, including new franchises in Albany, Kansas City and San Diego. The Albany franchise ceased operations the following February.
Nov. 22, 1990 -- The Peoria Rivermen defeat the Fort Wayne Komets 5-4 for their 18th consecutive victory, setting a professional hockey record.
March 9, 1991 -- The league's longest shootout game takes place at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee as a total of 42 shooters -- 21 from both the Admirals and Peoria Rivermen -- battle to determine the winner. Milwaukee went 6-for-21, Peoria scored on five attempts as the Admirals claimed a 4-3 victory.
Aug., 1991 -- The IHL announces that the Atlanta Knights will begin play in the 1992-93 season.
Spring, 1992 -- The Muskegon Lumberjacks franchise relocates to Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Cyclones enter the IHL after operating two seasons in the East Coast Hockey League.
Dec. 13, 1992 -- Manon Rheaume becomes the first female to play in a regular-season professional game. She starts the second period of game at the Omni in Atlanta and gives up one goal on six shots.
Dec. 29, 1992 -- Fort Wayne forward Scott Gruhl scores his 552nd IHL goal in a game against the San Diego Gulls, breaking the all-time goal scoring mark held by Joe Kastelic who played season in the league.
April 13, 1993 -- San Diego finishes the 1992-93 regular season with 62 wins and 132 points, both league records.
May 21, 1993 -- Fort Wayne defeats San Diego 6-1 to win the Turner Cup championship in four consecutive games. The Komets set a league record by winning 12 consecutive playoff games, after finishing the regular season with a five-game winning streak.
Fall, 1993 -- The Las Vegas Thunder begin play as an IHL expansion franchise and would go on to post the league's top regular season record (52-18-11).
Jan. 28, 1994 -- During a period which extended back to July 6, 1993, the IHL grants membership for expansion teams in Denver, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Houston and Chicago. The league will operate during the 1994-95 season with a league record 17 teams.
March 7, 1994 -- John Paris, Jr. is named coach of the Atlanta Knights, becoming the first black head coach in professional hockey.
March 22, 1994 -- The IHL approves the transfer of the Salt Lake Golden Eagles to Detroit for the 1994-95 season.
April 6, 1994 -- Kalamazoo right wing Rob Brown sets a league single-season record with his 110th assist during a 7-3 Wings victory vs. the Cincinnati Cyclones.
June 1, 1994 --Robert Ufer, the league's legal counsel during the past 18 years, assumes the position of commissioner, president and chief executive officer. As part of the restructuring, the IHL's business offices move to Detroit.
Sept. 30, 1994 -- The IHL begins its 50th anniversary season as a crowd of 20,182 fills The Palace of Auburn Hills for a game between Detroit and Cleveland.
Jan. 21, 1995 -- The Peoria Rivermen win at Indianapolis to post their 12th consecutive road victory, the most in professional hockey history.
April 9, 1995 -- The IHL's golden anniversary regular season concludes with a record-setting attendance total of 5,757,894.
Sept. 29, 1995 -- The league begins its second half-century of operation with a record 19 teams, including an expansion franchise in San Francisco (Spiders). Two teams relocated: The San Diego Gulls to Los Angeles (Ice Dogs) and the defending champion Grizzlies moved from Denver to Salt Lake City.
Jan. 13, 1996 -- An All-Star Game record crowd of 13,013 at The Summit in Houston sees the Eastern Conference posted a 7-3 victory over the West All-Stars.
March 30, 1996 -- Cleveland's Dave Michayluk scores the 533rd regular season goal of his IHL career in a game vs. the Atlanta Knights, setting a league all-time record, previously held by Scott Gruhl who scored 532 from 1979-94.
June 8, 1996 -- The Utah Grizzlies defeat the Orlando Solar Bears 3-2 in overtime to complete their second consecutive four-game sweep of the Turner Cup Finals before a record playoff crowd of 17,381 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.
August 15, 1996 -- The IHL and the Professional Hockey Players Association announce a new collective bargaining agreement set to run through the 2001-2002 season.
October, 1996 -- The 1996-97 season begins with 19 teams, including the first Canadian franchises in more than 30 years -- the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg and the Québec Rafales, which relocated from Minnesota and Atlanta, respectively. The expansion Grand Rapids Griffins opened play in the brand new Van Andel Arena, while the Ice Dogs moved into their new home in Long Beach, California. The start of the season also saw the debut of the San Antonio Dragons, a reincarnation of the former Peoria Rivermen.
November 9, 1996 -- Fred Brathwaite of the Manitoba Moose becomes the first goalie in IHL history to be credited with scoring a goal. He was the last Moose player to touch the puck prior to the Long Beach Ice Dogs putting it into their own net during a delayed penalty situation.
November 30, 1996 -- The Orlando Solar Bears win their 16th consecutive game, marking the second longest victory streak in IHL history (Peoria won a pro hockey record 18 in 1990-91). The Quebec Rafales snapped the Solar Bears streak with a 5-4 decision on Dec. 4. Counting two games prior to the winning streak, Orlando equaled a league record by posting an 18-game unbeaten streak (17-0-1).
December 20, 1996 -- Houston Aeros goaltender Frederic Chabot ties a 24-year old IHL record by posting three consecutive shutouts (Dec. 13 vs. Québec, Dec. 14 vs. San Antonio, Dec. 20 vs. Las Vegas). The feat was previously accomplished twice by Dave Hainsworth of Muskegon during the 1972-73 season. Chabot's shutout streak was part of a stellar season which would earn him league MVP honors.
February 18, 1997 -- A sellout crowd of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids saw the Western Conference claim a 6-4 decision in the 23rd IHL All-Star Game.
March 8, 1997 -- Eventual scoring champion Rob Brown of the Chicago Wolves became the third player in league history to score 100 or more points in four consecutive seasons.
March 17, 1997 -- The Detroit Vipers defeat the Michigan K-Wings, becoming the first team in pro hockey history to amass 100 or more points in each of their first three seasons of operation. Detroit would finish the season with a league-best 122 points, tied for third most in IHL history.
March 19, 1997 -- Orlando Solar Bears winger Kevin Smyth plays against the Cincinnati Cyclones, completing an amazing comeback. Less than three months previous, Smyth suffered permanent vision loss after being struck in the right eye by a deflected puck during a Dec. 22 game vs. the Indianapolis Ice.
April 13, 1997 -- The IHL surpasses the six million mark in regular season attendance for the first time, finishing at 6,021,099. Including playoff attendance, the total number of fans to watch games during the 1996-97 campaign was a record 6,495,144.
May 7, 1997 -- Cleveland Lumberjacks center Jock Callander becomes the league's all-time playoffs goal scoring leader, picking up his 65th lifetime postseason goal, in a Conference Semifinals game vs. the Indianapolis Ice.
June 15, 1997 -- The Detroit Vipers claim their first Turner Cup, eliminating the Long Beach Ice Dogs four games to two. Peter Ciavaglia was voted the playoffs MVP, while the stingy Vipers defense held the Ice Dogs to only 10 goals over the six contests.
October, 1997 -- The IHL begins its 53rd season, fielding 18 teams. The Utah Grizzlies move into a new arena, The "E" Center in West Valley, Utah, while the Cincinnati Cyclones also go to a new venue -- the former Riverfront Coliseum, renamed The Crown.
October 3, 1997 -- Gordie Howe becomes the first hockey professional to play in six decades as he suits up for the Detroit Vipers in their season opener at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Howe skated one shift for the defending Turner Cup champions.
November 29, 1997 -- An IHL-record crowd of 20,804 pack The Palace of Auburn Hills. Grand Rapids dampers the evening with a 4-1 win over the Vipers.
January 15, 1998 -- The league begins widespread utilization of the "expedited faceoff" procedure. The enforcement of the rules governing faceoffs and stoppages in play proves to reduce game times by an average of 14 minutes.
February 10, 1998 -- Offense is the norm as the Western Conference skates to a 12-8 victory in the 24th All-Star Game at Orlando Arena. Utah's Kip Miller scores a hat trick to pace the winners and collects MVP honors.
March 27 & 28, 1998 -- The IHL, in conjunction with the National Hockey League, stages experimental, four-quarter games in Las Vegas. It is the first time professional hockey uses the format for regular-season games.
June 15, 1998 -- The Chicago Wolves capture their first Turner Cup before 16,701 fans at the Rosemont Horizon. The 3-0 shutout clinched the title in seven games. It was the first seven-game series for a Cup Final in 13 years. Alexander Semak is selected as postseason MVP.
July 27, 1998 -- Douglas G. Moss, who had served as chief operating officer, is promoted to president and chief executive officer. He steps in for Robert P. Ufer, who had earlier tendered his resignation as commissioner.
October 9, 1998 -- The league begins its 54th season with a lineup of 16 teams.
June 4, 2001 -- League ceases operations.
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The History of the Toledo Blades
The Toledo Blades were the International Hockey League franchise of Toledo, Ohio from 1963 to 1970. The team name was changed to Hornets in 1970. The storied franchise left Toledo after the 1974–75 season for Lansing, Michigan, where they became the Lansing Lancers. The Blades were the Regular Season Champions in 1963–1964, with 86 points and were awarded the Fred A. Huber Trophy.
The Blades won the Turner Cup Championships in 1964 and 1967.
The Rookie of the Year Trophy was awarded to Blades players Don Westbrook in 1964 and Bob Thomas in 1965, respectively.
Blades goaltender, Glenn Ramsay, won the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the least goals against during the 1963–1964 regular season, his third Norris Trophy in a row. Glenn also won his sixth and final James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1967.
In 1965, team captain, , William "Chick" Chalmers, was awarded the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy, for the player voted most valuable through his display of outstanding playing ability and sportsmanlike conduct over the course of the regular season by the league coaches.
After the Hornets left in 1974, the IHL awarded a new franchise to Toledo called the Toledo Goaldiggers.