Lively Tales About Dead Teams

International Hockey League (1945-2001)


The International Hockey League began play in the winter of 1945-46 with four teams in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario.  By the early 1950’s, the Canadian clubs had largely faded away and the IHL became a Midwestern bus league for much of its 56-year existence, with cities like Flint, Ft. Wayne, Muskegon and Toledo forming the league’s backbone.

That began to change in 1984, when the IHL absorbed several clubs from the folding Central Hockey League, including the CHL’s former Salt Lake City, Utah club, the Golden Eagles.  Salt Lake is over 1,600 miles from what was then the IHL’s easternmost franchise in Toledo, Ohio.  Major market expansion got under way in the late 1990’s and a speculative bubble in franchise valuations came along with it.  In 1984, the IHL’s Muskegon Mohawks club sold to new ownership for $1.00.  A decade later in 1994 the league’s expansion fee was $6 million and the small market Midwestern clubs like Muskegon, Flint and Saginaw had largely fallen away as the IHL planted flags in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco and beyond.

The IHL’s relationship with the NHL soured during the 1990’s, partly due to expansion into NHL markets like Chicago and Detroit.  NHL clubs began shifting their farm club affiliations away from the IHL, depriving the league of crucial subsidies just as the league’s operational costs with cross-continental  air travel and big city living exploded.  The expansion bubble popped in the mid-1990’s after fees topped out around $7 million and the league went into a financial free fall in the latter part of the decade.

The IHL folded in the early summer of 2001.  Six franchise – the Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Houston Aeros, Manitoba Moose, Milwaukee Admirals and Utah Grizzlies – continued on and were absorbed into the American Hockey League.


International Hockey League Franchise List

Franchise Years Active Turner Cup Champions
Akron Americans 1948-1949 None
Albany Choppers 1990-1991 None
Atlanta Knights 1992-1996 1994
Chatham Maroons 1949-1952 1950
Chatham Maroons 1963-1964 None
Chicago Wolves 1994-2001 1998-2000
Cincinnati Cyclones 1992-2001 None
Cincinnati Mohawks 1952-1958 1953-1954-1955-1956-1957
Cleveland Lumberjacks 1992-2001 None
Colorado Rangers 1987-1988 None
Columbus Checkers 1966-1970 None
Columbus Golden Seals 1971-1973 None
Columbus Owls 1973-1977 None
Dayton Gems 1964-1977 & 1979-1980 1969-1970-1976
Dayton Owls 1977 None
Denver Grizzlies 1994-1995 1995
Denver Mavericks 1959 None
Denver Rangers 1988-1989 None
Des Moines Capitols 1972-1975 1974
Des Moines Oak Leafs 1963-1972 None
Detroit Auto Club 1945-1951 1946
Detroit Bright's Goodyears 1945-1959 None
Detroit Hettche 1949-1952 None
Detroit Jerry Lynch 1948-1949 None
Detroit Metal Mouldings 1946-1948 None
Detroit Vipers 1994-2001 1997
Flint Generals 1969-1985 1984
Flint Spirits 1985-1990 None
Fort Wayne Komets 1952-1999 1963-1965-1973-1993
Grand Rapids Griffins 1996-2001 None
Grand Rapids Owls 1977-1980 None
Grand Rapids Rockets 1950-1956 None
Houston Aeros 1994-2001 1999
Huntington Hornets 1956-1957 None
Indianapolis Checkers 1984-1987 None
Indianapolis Chiefs 1955-1962 1958
Indianapolis Ice 1988-1999 1990
Johnstown Jets 1953-1955 None
Kalamazoo Wings 1974-1995 1979-1980
Kansas City Blades 1990-2001 1992
Lansing Lancers 1974-1975 None
Las Vegas Thunder 1993-1999 None
Long Beach Ice Dogs 1996-2000 None
Los Angeles Ice Dogs 1995-1996 None
Louisville Blades 1948-1949 None
Louisville Rebels 1957-1960 1959
Louisville Shooting Stars 1953-1954 None
Manitoba Moose 1996-2001 None
Marion Barons 1953-1954 None
Michigan K-Wings 1995-2000 None
Milwaukee Admirals 1977-2001 None
Milwaukee Chiefs 1952-1954 None
Milwaukee Clarks 1948-1949 None
Milwaukee Falcons 1959-1960 None
Minneapolis Millers 1959-1963 None
Minnesota Moose 1994-1996 None
Muncie Flyers 1948-1949 None
Muskegon Lumberjacks 1984-1992 1986-1989
Muskegon Mohawks 1965-1984 1968
Muskegon Zephyrs 1960-1965 1962
Omaha Knights 1959-1963 None
Orlando Solar Bears 1995-2001 2001
Peoria Prancers 1982-1984 None
Peoria Rivermen 1984-1996 1985- 1991
Phoenix Roadrunners 1989-1997 None
Port Huron Flags 1962-1971 & 1974-1981 1966-1971
Port Huron Wings 1971-1974 1972
Quebec Rafales 1996-1998 None
Russian Penguins 1993-1994 None
Saginaw Gears 1972-1983 1977-1981
Saginaw Generals 1985-1987 None
Saginaw Hawks 1987-1989 None
St. Paul Saints 1959-1963 1960-1961
Salt Lake Golden Eagles 1984-1994 1987-1988
San Antonio Dragons 1996-1998 None
San Diego Gulls 1990-1995 None
San Francisco Spiders 1995-1996 None
Sarnia Sailors 1949-1951 None
Toledo Blades 1963-1970 1964-1967
Toledo Goaldiggers 1974-1986 1975-1978-1982-1983
Toledo Hornets 1970-1974 None
Toledo Mercurys 1947-1949 & 1950-1962 1948-1951-1952
Troy Bruins 1951-1959 None
Utah Grizzlies 1995-2001 1996
Windsor Bulldogs 1963-1964 None
Windsor Gotfredsons 1945-1946 None
Windsor Hettche Spitfires 1947-1949 1949
Windsor Spitfires 1945-1947 1947
Windsor Staffords 1946-1948 None
Windsor Ryan Cretes 1948-1950 None

Written by AC

April 11th, 2012 at 3:02 am

Posted in

2 Responses to 'International Hockey League (1945-2001)'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'International Hockey League (1945-2001)'.

  1. “Russian Penguins” Is actualy CSKA Moscow also known as Central Red Army. They had a penguin on their jersey due to an sponsership deal with Pittsburgh.

    S. Schieve

    17 Jan 13 at 9:42 am

  2. […] Enjoy this collection of tickets from a once-proud league. For more on the IHL, check out […]

Leave a Reply


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: