The coveted Calder Cup has been a motivational force for American Hockey League teams throughout the League’s 75-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 30 pounds. The bowl, made of sterling silver, is 12 inches high and eight inches in diameter. The hardwood base is made of poplar.
A total of 27 different cities have had their AHL member club win the Calder Cup, led by Hershey with 11 following the Bears’ 2010 championship. Cleveland (nine), Springfield (seven), Rochester (six), Providence (five), Portland (four), Glens Falls (four) and Chicago (two) are the other active cities with more than one title.
Twenty-seven 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 and Patrick Roy.
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 Nashville’s Barry Trotz (Portland, 1994), the New York Rangers’ John Tortorella (Rochester, 1996), Philadelphia’s Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999), San Jose’s Todd McLellan (Houston, 2003), Winnipeg’s Claude Noel (Milwaukee, 2004) and Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau (Hershey, 2006).
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 and 2011 Stanley Cup champion Dennis Seidenberg.
Two-time Calder Cup champion Darren Haydar is the AHL’s all-time leader in playoff goals (59), assists (76) and points (135), and three-time winner Bryan Helmer has played in more Calder Cup Playoff games (144) 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 before bowing out, and in 2010 the Hamilton Bulldogs and Montreal Canadiens both reached the conference finals.
Only one team in 75 years has been able to win the Calder Cup in three consecutive seasons: the Springfield Indians, under the leadership of Hockey and AHL Hall of Famers Eddie Shore and Jack Butterfield, skated to Calder Cup championships in 1960, 1961 and 1962.