American Hockey League President and CEO Dave Andrews announced today that the League's Board of Governors approved a new Calder Cup Playoff format to accommodate the League's recent expansion to 27 teams.
The new playoff format allows for the top 10 teams in each Conference to qualify for postseason play. The American Hockey League will be divided into two (2) Conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.
At the conclusion of the Schedule of Championship Games, the top ten (10) teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conference shall qualify for the playoffs. The first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs will consist of the 7th place team in each conference playing the 10th place team, and the 8th place team playing the 9th place team. These series will be in a best of three format with all games at the home of the higher seed. The second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs will consist of the first place team in each division, the next three best teams in each conference based on regular season point totals, and the first round winners. The three division winners in each conference will be seeded first, second, and third for the balance of the conference playoffs and the next five teams, in order of points, will be seeded fourth through eighth. In each conference, the match-ups will be 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, and 4 v 5 in the quarterfinal round.
Home ice in the Conference Quarterfinals is granted to those teams seeded first through fourth in each conference.
In the Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals, higher seeded teams will have home ice advantage. Division winners maintain their seed throughout the conference playoffs. Home ice advantage in the Calder Cup Finals will be determined by points.
The first round shall be two out of three games. Conference Quarterfinals shall be three out of five games. Conference Semifinals through the Finals shall be four out of seven games.
OTHER AHL NEWS:
In a significant move to speed up the pace of the game, the AHL has unanimously adopted the face-off procedures currently employed by the International Ice Hockey Federation. This procedure will see line changes completed, and play resumed within 15 seconds of the previous stoppage of play.
The League's Board of Governors also approved a proposal to move to a fixed playing roster of 17 skaters and two goaltenders for the 2001-2002 regular season.
The American Hockey League is the top development League for the National Hockey League. Each of the NHL's 30 clubs will develop their top prospects in the AHL during the 2001-2002 season. During the 2000-2001 season, 247 players competed in both the AHL and NHL, while 70% of all players to competed in the NHL last season spent time developing their skills in the AHL.