The coveted Calder Cup has been a motivational force for American Hockey League teams throughout the League’s 87-year history. It is one of our sport’s greatest challenges and ultimate honors to hoist the Calder Cup in victory.
The trophy is named for Frank Calder, who served as the National Hockey League’s first President from 1917 to 1943. During the 1920’s, Mr. Calder was instrumental in guiding hockey into the mainstream of America’s major cities including Boston, New York, Detroit and Chicago, while helping in the formation of the American League.
The Calder Cup trophy itself was actually first awarded in 1938 to the Providence Reds for winning the second International-American Hockey League championship. (In 1996, George Parsons of the Syracuse Stars was presented the Calder Cup in a ceremony at the Onondaga County War Memorial, as it is believed the Stars never received a trophy for their 1937 championship.)
In 2001, the trophy’s base was changed to include two tiers of plaques, which feature the rosters of each of the last 20 Calder Cup champions; the plaques from all previous champions are on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The entire Calder Cup trophy now stands 24 inches tall and weighs 25 pounds. The bowl, made of sterling silver, is 12 inches high and eight inches in diameter. The hardwood base is made of Brazilian mahogany.
A total of 33 different cities have had their AHL member club win the Calder Cup, led by Hershey with 12 and Cleveland with 10. Springfield (seven), Rochester (six), Providence (five), Chicago (three) and Grand Rapids (two) are the other active cities with more than one title.
Twenty-nine members of the Hockey Hall of Fame have won the Calder Cup in their careers, including Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk, Emile Francis, Gerry Cheevers, Al Arbour, Andy Bathgate, Larry Robinson, Doug Harvey, Patrick Roy and Fred Shero.
Not only have great players won the Calder Cup, but outstanding coaches have also hoisted the AHL’s championship trophy. Hall of Famer Fred “Bun” Cook holds the distinction of winning seven Calder Cups in his career; no other AHL head coach has ever won more than three. Current NHL head coaches with Calder Cup titles on their resumes include John Tortorella (Rochester, 1996), Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999), Todd McLellan (Houston, 2003), Jon Cooper (Norfolk, 2012), Jared Bednar (Lake Erie, 2016) and Sheldon Keefe (Toronto, 2018).
More than 100 players and coaches have won both the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup in their careers, including Ace Bailey, Brian Engblom, Dick Gamble, Butch Goring, Adam Graves, Peter Mahovlich, Kirk Maltby, Ab McDonald, Patrick Sharp, Fred Shero, Brian Skrudland, Jeff Carter, Braden Holtby, John Carlson, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat.
Two-time Calder Cup champion Darren Haydar is the AHL’s all-time leader in playoff goals (63) and points (143), and three-time winner Bryan Helmer has played in more Calder Cup Playoff games (159) than anyone else. Marcel Paille’s 49 playoff victories are the most ever by a goaltender, and Bill McDougall set single-season records that may never be broken when he tallied 26 goals, 26 assists and 52 points during the 1993 postseason with the Cape Breton Oilers.
Four men share the honor of having won the most Calder Cups during their playing careers: Bob Solinger, Les Duff, Fred Glover and Mike Busniuk each skated to five titles.
Calder Cup-winning teams have impacted significantly on the success of their NHL parent clubs. On three occasions an AHL club and its NHL affiliate won their league championships in the same year: In 1976 and 1977, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup while their AHL affiliate, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, won the Calder Cup, and in 1995, the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils saw their AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats, win a title as well. In 2008, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and their parent club in Pittsburgh both reached their respective league Finals, and in 2019, the Charlotte Checkers won the Calder Cup while the Carolina Hurricanes reached the NHL’s Eastern Conference Final.
Only one team in 87 years has been able to win the Calder Cup in three consecutive seasons: the Springfield Indians, under the leadership of AHL and Hockey Hall of Famers Eddie Shore and Jack Butterfield, skated to Calder Cup championships in 1960, 1961 and 1962.