AHL announces playoff format, rule change

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … At its Annual Meeting held on Hilton Head Island, S.C., last week, the American Hockey League’s Board of Governors approved the format for the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs.

At the conclusion of the 2006-07 regular season, the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature the top four teams in each of the four divisions, with one possible exception: if the fifth-place team in the West Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the North Division, it would cross over and compete in the North Division playoffs.

The postseason format will again feature a divisional playoff, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals. All rounds will comprise best-of-seven series.

Click here for the AHL’s 2006-07 divisional alignment.

In addition to mandating visors for all players, the only substantive rule change adopted by the AHL at last week’s meeting was that in the event of a defending player (other than the goalkeeper) clearing the puck over the glass from within the defensive zone, except in cases when a minor penalty for delay of game is assessed at the discretion of the referee, the offending team will not be permitted a line change prior to the ensuing faceoff.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 82 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the fifth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2005-06.