The world of hockey is a large one. There are currently over 220 million active players participating in over 200 leagues around the world. The NHL, the premier professional league, has over 13 million fans annually following their team’s games. The game has expanded far beyond the borders of Canada and the United States. In 1966, the first World Hockey Championship was held in Canada with three North American teams facing off against four international teams.
Hockey has grown and evolved over the years, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the legendary Walter “Red” Kelly. Kelly, who was the NHL’s first commissioner, established two leagues—the NHL and the American Hockey Association. Both leagues would eventually merge to form the modern-day NHL. Thanks to Kelly’s tireless efforts, NHL players were able to negotiate union wages and gain more secure employment opportunities. Today, hockey can be found in every major city across the globe.
How Many Divisions In The NHL?
Since the NHL is the official American league of the international ice hockey federation, the governing body of the game, there are currently four divisions: the NHL, the American Hockey League, the ECHL, and the NAHL. The NHL currently has four major divisions—Atlantic, Central, Midwest, and North—with the exception of the Pacific division, which is made up of teams from California, Oregon, and Washington. The conferences within the NHL are also divided into three divisions: the Eastern Conference, the Central Conference, and the Western Conference. This year, these conferences will each have three divisions, which will make for an interesting 16-team playoff format.
The divisions in the NHL are determined based on geographical considerations and the performance of the teams in the previous season. For example, the Atlantic division is made up of teams from the Eastern, Central, and New England conferences, while the Metropolitan division includes the other three conferences. Additionally, the performance of the teams in the previous year is factored into the divisional alignment, giving more weight to recent standings.
How Many Divisions In The AHL?
The AHL is the official development league of the NHL. Every year, the teams in the AHL play a regular season, followed by a series of playoff games until just two teams remain. These two teams then battle it out for the Calder Cup, which is presented to the league champion. For the majority of professional hockey players, the AHL is the place to be, as it offers a consistent hockey environment and plenty of opportunities to play. There are currently 16 teams in the AHL, which are aligned into two divisions—Nashville and Pacific. The name “Hartford” was removed from this year’s event due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. This year will mark the 98th season of the AHL.
Like the NHL, the AHL is also organized into geographical divisions and conference affiliations. However, the structure of the AHL is a little different from that of the NHL. While the NHL has four divisions, the AHL currently has only two. Additionally, the AHL does not have Eastern and Western divisions; instead, it is divided into two conferences based on geographical proximity. However, both the AHL and the NHL are keeping an eye on the COVID-19 pandemic and may reevaluate their divisional alignments if necessary.
The teams in the AHL are generally smaller than those in the NHL, which makes for a more intimate atmosphere and encourages frequent interactions between players and staff. Traveling to games is also easier, as there are fewer stops and starts on the bus ride to the rink. Many fans prefer to follow the action live via the internet, which is why the AHL is the center of activity on social media platforms like Twitter.
How Many Divisions In The ECHL?
The ECHL is the senior league of the three NCAA-member leagues that form the Professional Hockey League (PHL). The ECHL was originally established in 1971 as the South Eastern Hockey League. After a 10-year absence, the league was revived in 1981 and renamed the Atlantic Hockey League. The ECHL currently has 12 teams participating in three divisions—Mountain, North, and South—which will be realigned into two conferences in 2022-23 after the completion of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The ECHL is a great option for fans looking for local hockey action, as all teams are based in the East Coast, which means fewer road trips for the fans. However, like the AHL, the ECHL only has two divisions and is not as competitive as the NHL or the AHL. Therefore, the overall playing experience can be quite different from that of a regular season game in a division-rivalry environment in a pro sports league.
How Many Divisions In The NAHL?
The National All-Star Hockey League (NAHL) is a junior league established in the United States in 2021. The majority of its teams are located in the western part of the country, with only nine teams in existence as of September 2021. Like the ECHL, the NAHL also has three divisions—Northwest, Pacific, and Southwest—and will be realigned into two conferences in 2022-23.
Unlike the other junior leagues mentioned so far, the NAHL will operate more like a traditional pro league, with each team playing a 44-game regular season. This is followed by a series of playoff games to determine the league champion. The total salary cap for the league is $2 million dollars, which is slightly higher than the ECHL but lower than that of the AHL or the NHL. Additionally, membership in the NAHL is completely open, which means there are no geographical restrictions on who can join. Finally, since it is an official junior league of the NHL, players born in 1994 or later can play in the NAHL, regardless of their experience.
While there are many professional leagues, it is important to note that not all leagues are created equal. Depending on your preferences, you may want to consider one of the three junior leagues above rather than the currently inactive Central Australian Minor League, which is currently in the process of being reestablished. In the end, it’s all about what you’re looking for.