RALEIGH (June 5, 2001) -- The American Hockey League will expandto 30 member clubs for the 2001-02 season according to a Monday newsrelease.
The Manitoba, Milwaukee, Utah, Grand Rapids, Chicago and Houstonfranchises of the International Hockey League were given a new homeunder the AHL umbrealla. The expansion of the number-one developmentalleague came at the same time the IHL announced that it will ceaseoperations offically Oct. 1.
The AHL's expansion follows an announcement that Manchester, NH andBridgeport, CT will each start new franchises next season. 27 of theleague's 30 member clubs are expected to be active in the 2001-02season and the 'A' hopes that all 30 will play in 2002-03.
For the past two seasons Carolina Hurricanes prospects played for theCincinnati Cyclones of the IHL. Hurricanes management announced inDecember that Carolina prospects would re-join the AHL ranks with theLowell Lock Monsters next season.
The IHL's press release stated that the future of that league's memberteams would be announced in the coming days and weeks. With six teamsset to join the AHL it appears that the five remaining IHL franchisesmay fold. There was no word from the Cyclones at press time.
The AHL is considered the top developmental league for the NationalHockey League. Each of the 30 NHL clubs will develop prospects in theAHL next season.