2022-23 season is underway

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League opens its 87th season of play tonight, with 10 games on the schedule to kick things off.

For the first time in league history, the AHL has 32 active teams hitting the ice in 2022-23, as the Coachella Valley Firebirds begin play as the top affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. This season also marks the debut of the Calgary Wranglers, as the Flames’ top prospects join the parent club playing at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

All 32 clubs will play 72 games in 2022-23 as the league returns to a homogenized schedule for the first time since the Pacific Division was formed in 2015. From there, 23 teams will qualify for postseason play when the regular season ends on April 16, with five rounds of playoffs leading to the crowning of the 2023 Calder Cup champion. The postseason field will include six of eight teams from the Atlantic Division, five of seven in both the North and Central Divisions, and seven of 10 in the Pacific.

During the 2021-22 season, 88.2 percent of all NHL players were graduates of the American Hockey League, including Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers; Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings; Lady Byng Trophy winner Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets; and former AHL All-Stars such as Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Vancouver’s J.T. Miller, Ottawa’s Drake Batherson; Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, St. Louis’s Jordan Binnington, and Edmonton’s Jack Campbell.

There were 235 former first- and second-round NHL draft picks who skated in the AHL last season, including standouts like Alexander Holtz, Marco Rossi, Lukas Reichel, Jakob Pelletier, Peyton Krebs, 2022 Calder Cup champion Jack Drury and AHL Rookie of the Year Jack Quinn. There were also 423 players who saw action in both the AHL and the NHL last season alone.

In 2022-23, 22 NHL teams are being led by former AHL head coaches, among them Jared Bednar of the 2022 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche and Jon Cooper, whose Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021. Washington’s Peter Laviolette, Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan, Nashville’s John Hynes, Toronto’s Sheldon Keefe, Vancouver’s Bruce Boudreau, Minnesota’s Dean Evason and Edmonton’s Jay Woodcroft are also among the current NHL coaches who spent time in the American Hockey League before making the jump.

The AHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2015-16, Mikko Rantanen won the Stanley Cup with Colorado last season. (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Around the AHL, nine head coaching changes have been made since the end of last season.

The promotions to NHL assistant coaching positions of Trent Cull (Vancouver), Ryan Warsofsky (San Jose), Scott Allen (Washington) and Jay Varady (Detroit) opened the door to new head coaching posts for Jeremy Colliton (Abbotsford Canucks), Brock Sheahan (Chicago Wolves), Todd Nelson (Hershey Bears) and Steve Potvin (Tucson Roadrunners).

Former Cleveland Monsters forward Trent Vogelhuber takes over as their head coach; at 34, Vogelhuber is the youngest bench boss in the league. And John McCarthy, who captained the San Jose Barracuda from 2016 until his retirement in 2019, is that club’s new head coach.

McCarthy takes over for Roy Sommer, who left the Sharks organization after 24 seasons as head coach of San Jose’s AHL affiliates. The winningest head coach in AHL history is the new leader of the San Diego Gulls.

After spending last season as an assistant with Seattle’s prospects in Charlotte, former Stanley Cup winner Dan Bylsma has been named the first head coach in Coachella Valley. And long-time NHL forward Marco Sturm takes over the Ontario Reign bench after spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings.

In addition, Bakersfield’s Colin Chaulk and Rockford’s Anders Sorensen take over full-time after finishing last season as interim head coaches of their respective clubs.

Following two postponements due to COVID-19, the AHL All-Star Classic returns in 2023 as the Laval Rocket host the league’s best and brightest at Place Bell. The AHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Sunday, February 5, followed by the AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony on Monday, February 6 and the three-on-three, round-robin 2023 AHL All-Star Challenge that evening.

The 2023 AHL All-Star Classic will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: since 1995, more than 95 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Cam AtkinsonDrake BathersonPatrice BergeronJordan BinningtonJack CampbellJohn Carlson, Logan CoutureThatcher DemkoDenis GurianovConnor HellebuyckTristan JarryKaapo KahkonenJordan KyrouJonathan MarchessaultJacob MarkstromJ.T. MillerBrandon MontourWilliam NylanderKyle PalmieriMikko RantanenDylan StromeVitek Vanecek and Mats Zuccarello.

AHLTV (AHLTV.com) features live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as on over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as RokuApple TVAmazon Fire TV and Android TV. AHLTV is also available through the official AHL mobile app for iOS or Android.

Subscription packages range from $7.99 USD for a single day’s worth of games to just $104.99 USD for every game throughout the 2022-23 regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs.

The season on AHLTV officially kicks off with an Opening Weekend Freeview; all games from Oct. 14-16 are free to anyone with an AHLTV account (no purchase or subscription necessary).

The AHL’s positioning in social media also continues to grow, and the league’s feeds on Facebook (fb.com/theahl), Twitter (@TheAHL), and Instagram (theahl) remain great sources for breaking AHL news, special offers, behind-the-scenes insights and fan interaction. The AHL communications department also maintains a news feed on Twitter (@AHLPR).

The AHL’s digital properties are anchored by the league’s official website, theahl.com, which is fully compatible with desktop, mobile and tablet devices alike. In addition, the official AHL mobile app is available for free for iPhone and Android devices.

The 2022-23 AHL Guide & Record Book is available for viewing and download at theahl.com/mediaguide. The AHL Rule Book can be found at theahl.com/rules.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives, broadcasters and staff of all 32 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.