The coveted Calder Cup has been a motivational force for American Hockey League teams throughout the League’s 69-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 American’s major cities including Boston, New York, Detroit and Chicago, while helping in the formation of the American League.
A total of 25 different cities have had their AHL member club win the Calder Cup, including the original Cleveland Barons, who played in the AHL from 1936 to 1972 and won a record nine championships. The Hershey Bears have the most championships of active franchises with eight, the first in 1947 and the most recent in 1997, and have played in a record 18 Finals series in their 66 seasons.
Twenty-six members of the Hockey Hall of Fame have won the Calder Cup, including Terry Sawchuk, Emile Francis, Gerry Cheevers, Larry Robinson, Johnny Bower, Al Arbour, Frank Mathers and Tim Horton.
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.
In 2004, Tampa Bay’s John Tortorella became just the fourth man ever to win both the Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup as a head coach. Other current NHL head coaches with Calder Cup titles on their resumes include Nashville’s Barry Trotz (Portland, 1994), Atlanta’s Bob Hartley (Hershey, 1997) and Carolina’s Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999).
More than 100 players and coaches have won both the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup in their careers, including Andy Bathgate, Brian Engblom, Adam Graves, Doug Harvey, Martin Lapointe, Pete Mahovlich, Billy Smith and three-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Roy.
Calder Cup-winning teams have impacted significantly on the success of their NHL parent clubs. The Montreal Canadiens twice have won the Stanley Cup in the year following Calder Cup championships by their AHL affiliate. On three occasions an AHL club and their NHL affiliate won their respective championships in the same year. In 1976 and 1977, the Montreal Canadiens and their AHL affiliate, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, won their respective League titles. More recently the 1995 Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils also had their AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats, win the Calder Cup championship that same year.
Only one team has been able to win the Calder Cup in three consecutive years. The Springfield Indians, under the leadership of Hall of Famers Eddie Shore and Jack Butterfield, skated to Calder Cup championships in 1960, 1961 and 1962.
Last season, the Milwaukee Admirals steered their way to the Calder Cup championship in a four-game sweep of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Admirals tied an AHL record with six overtime wins along the way, proving their first-place finish in the overall regular-season standings was no fluke.
In the 2004-05 season, 28 teams will once again compete for the Calder Cup, with Milwaukee looking to become the first team since the 1990-91 Springfield Indians to successfully defend their title.