Central Hockey League

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Central Hockey League
Central Hockey League logo.svg
Final CHL logo, used until 2014
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1992
Ceased 2014
Replaced by ECHL (partial)[1]
Countries  United States
Allen Americans
Most titles (tie) Allen Americans, Wichita Thunder, Oklahoma City Blazers, Memphis RiverKings, Laredo Bucks, & Colorado Eagles (2)

The Central Hockey League (CHL) was a North American mid-level minor professional ice hockey league which operated in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Until 2013, it was owned by Global Entertainment Corporation, at which point it was purchased by the individual franchise owners. As of the end of its final season in 2014, three of the 30 National Hockey League teams had affiliations with the CHL: the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Several teams of defunct leagues joined the CHL along its history, including the Southern Hockey League, Western Professional Hockey League and International Hockey League. After two teams suspended operations during the 2014 offseason, the remaining seven were accepted as members of the ECHL in October 2014, meaning the end for the CHL after 22 seasons.[1]


The Central Hockey League (CHL) was revived in 1992 by Ray Miron and the efforts of Bill Levins, with the idea of central ownership of both the league and the teams. Both men were from hockey backgrounds. Miron had been general manager of the Colorado Rockies (now the New Jersey Devils), and had briefly been president of the previous Central Hockey League in 1976. In the inaugural 1992–93 season the league had six teams, including the Oklahoma City Blazers, the Tulsa Oilers, the Wichita Thunder, the Memphis RiverKings, the Dallas Freeze and the Fort Worth Fire.

After Levins died, the league's championship trophy (awarded to the winner of the CHL playoffs) was renamed the Levins Cup. After running the league for eight years, Miron retired in 2000 and sold the league. The Levins Cup was renamed the Ray Miron President's Cup. After experiments in expansion and an ongoing battle for players and markets with the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) throughout the late 1990s, the CHL merged with the WPHL in 2001, with 10 former WPHL teams joining the CHL for the 2001–02 season. However, several years of gradual contraction in the former WPHL markets claimed most of these teams in the ensuing years. The last active former WPHL team, the Fort Worth Brahmas, effectively ceased operations following the 2012–13 season. Subsequently, in 2010, the International Hockey League folded and all five remaining IHL teams joined the CHL. As of the end of the 2013–14 season only the Quad City Mallards remain from the former IHL.

Brad Treliving, who co-founded the WPHL in 1996, became CHL commissioner following the merger, before leaving to join the Phoenix Coyotes.[2] Duane Lewis was named the permanent commissioner in June 2008.[3] In October 2013, the CHL appointed former president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Steve Ryan to succeed Lewis.

On March 8, 2013, the Central Hockey League announced an expansion team in Brampton, Ontario. The Brampton Beast would become the first Canadian team in the CHL's history. In October 2013, the Central Hockey League was purchased from Global Entertainment by all the team owners, putting the CHL business model in line with that of the NHL and AHL.

On May 2, 2014 the St. Charles Chill ceased operations. Soon after, the Arizona Sundogs and Denver Cutthroats suspended operations.[4] On October 7, 2014, it was announced that the ECHL would absorb the Central Hockey League's remaining seven teams to begin play for the 2014–15 season, officially signaling the end of the Central Hockey League after 22 seasons.[5][6]

The Mississippi RiverKings, Tulsa Oilers, and Wichita Thunder are the last of the original six franchises still playing as of May 2017.


A map showing the expanse of all historical CHL teams
Green pog.svg Teams joined the ECHL on October 7, 2014
Blue pog.svg Teams that joined another league prior to the folding of the CHL
Red pog.svg Defunct, relocated, or folded to make room for team from another league


Brampton Beast Denver Cutthroats Bloomington Thunder (SPHL) Quad City Mallards Fort Wayne Komets Evansville IceMen Dayton Gems (2009–2012) Bloomington PrairieThunder Missouri Mavericks Allen Americans Rapid City Rush Rocky Mountain Rage Arizona Sundogs Youngstown SteelHounds Colorado Eagles St. Charles Chill Laredo Bucks San Angelo Outlaws Odessa Jackalopes (1997–2011) New Mexico Scorpions Lubbock Cotton Kings Fort Worth Brahmas El Paso Buzzards Corpus Christi IceRays (1997–2010) Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs Austin Ice Bats Amarillo Gorillas Border City Bandits Topeka Tarantulas Indianapolis Ice Topeka ScareCrows Fayetteville Force Nashville Nighthawks Macon Whoopee (CHL) Huntsville Channel Cats Columbus Cottonmouths San Antonio Iguanas Wichita Thunder Tulsa Oilers Oklahoma City Blazers (1992–2009) Mississippi RiverKings Mississippi RiverKings Fort Worth Fire Dallas Freeze


Year Teams Expansion Defunct Suspended Return from Hiatus Relocated Name Changes
1992–93 6 Dallas Freeze
Fort Worth Fire
Memphis RiverKings
Oklahoma City Blazers
Tulsa Oilers
Wichita Thunder
1993–94 6
1994–95 7 San Antonio Iguanas
1995–96 6 Dallas Freeze
1996–97 10 Columbus Cottonmouths
Huntsville Channel Cats
Macon Whoopie
Nashville Nighthawks
1997–98 10 Fayetteville Force San Antonio Iguanas Nashville Nighthawks → Nashville Ice Flyers
1998–99 11 Topeka Scarecrows Nashville Ice Flyers San Antonio Iguanas
1999–00 11 Indianapolis Ice Fort Worth Fire
2000–01 12 Border City Bandits Border City Bandits (defunct mid-season) Huntsville Channel Cats → Huntsville Tornado
2001–02 16 Amarillo Rattlers (from WPHL)
Austin Ice Bats (from WPHL)
Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (from WPHL)
Corpus Christi Ice Rays (from WPHL)
El Paso Buzzards (from WPHL)
Fort Worth Brahmas (from WPHL)
Lubbock Cotton Kings (from WPHL)
New Mexico Scorpions (from WPHL)
Odessa Jackalopes (from WPHL)
San Angelo Outlaws (from WPHL)
Columbus Cottonmouths (to ECHL)
Fayetteville Force
Huntsville Tornado
Macon Whoopie (replaced by ECHL)
Topeka Scarecrows (replaced by USHL)
2002–03 16 Laredo Bucks San Antonio Iguanas Amarillo Rattlers → Amarillo Gorillas
San Angelo Outlaws → San Angelo Saints
2003–04 17 Colorado Eagles
Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
El Paso Buzzards Corpus Christi Ice Rays → Corpus Christi Rayz
2004–05 17 Indianapolis Ice → Topeka Tarantulas
2005–06 15 Youngstown SteelHounds San Angelo Saints
Topeka Tarantulas
New Mexico Scorpions
2006–07 17 Arizona Sundogs
Rocky Mountain Rage
Fort Worth Brahmas New Mexico Scorpions
2007–08 17 Lubbock Cotton Kings Fort Worth Brahmas Fort Worth Brahmas → Texas Brahmas
Memphis RiverKings → Mississippi RiverKings
2008–09 16 Rapid City Rush Austin Ice Bats
Youngstown Steelhounds
Corpus Christi Rayz → Corpus Christi IceRays
2009–10 15 Allen Americans
Missouri Mavericks
New Mexico Scorpions
Oklahoma City Blazers
Rocky Mountain Rage
2010–11 18 Bloomington PrairieThunder (from IHL)
Dayton Gems (from IHL)
Evansville IceMen (from IHL)
Fort Wayne Komets (from IHL)
Quad City Mallards (from IHL)
Amarillo Gorillas
Corpus Christi IceRays (replaced by NAHL)
2011–12 14 Bloomington Blaze Bloomington Prairie Thunder
Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs
Colorado Eagles (to ECHL)
Mississippi RiverKings (to SPHL)
Odessa Jackalopes (replaced by NAHL[7])
2012–13 10 Denver Cutthroats Evansville IceMen (to ECHL)
Fort Wayne Komets (to ECHL)
Dayton Gems
Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
Laredo Bucks Texas Brahmas → Fort Worth Brahmas
2013–14 10 Brampton Beast Bloomington Blaze (to SPHL)
Fort Worth Brahmas
Laredo Bucks Laredo Bucks → St. Charles Chill

League champions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ECHL Accepts Seven New Members", ECHL, October 7, 2014. (accessed 13 October 2014)
  2. ^ "Treliving new Coyotes assistant GM". Azcentral.com. July 19, 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  3. ^ "News". centralhockeyleague.com. June 17, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  4. ^ "Denver Elects Dormancy for the 2014-15 Season". centralhockeyleague.com. August 20, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  5. ^ "CHL Clubs Join ECHL for 2014-15 Season". Central Hockey League. October 7, 2014. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  6. ^ "ECHL Accepts Seven Members". ECHL. October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Jacks make move to North American Hockey League official | hockey, league, american - Central Hockey League - Odessa American Online". Oaoa.com. 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  • Stott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. pp. 16–201. ISBN 1-894974-21-2.