CHL to expand for 2010-11 season.

Central Hockey League to merge with International Hockey League.

The Central Hockey League and the International Hockey League announced Tuesday that they have entered into a letter of intent to merge and form a "super league" for the 2010-11 hockey season.  

The IHL encompasses teams that are primarily in the upper Midwest from Illinois to Ohio.  The CHL includes the Tulsa Oilers and teams from south Texas to South Dakota, and from Arizona to Mississippi.  At the end on the 2009-10 season, the CHL had 15 teams, and the IHL only five.  Since the end of the season, the Amarillo Gorillas announced that they would cease operations and the Corpus Christi Ice Rays have announced that they will leave the CHL for the North American Hockey League (NAHL)

The news is a momentous one in minor league professional hockey.  “This is an exciting day for our teams and markets,” said Duane Lewis, CHL Commissioner. “Both leagues have worked hard to establish tremendous entertainment at a great value for their fans, and by combining our resources we believe we can strengthen those efforts providing greater fan interest as well as a stronger brand.”

The commissioner of the IHL echoed Lewis’ statement.  “The arrangement between the CHL and the IHL should create an innovative and exciting "AA" level professional hockey league which is scheduled to start play in the 2010-2011 season,” said Dennis Hextall, IHL Commissioner. “The two leagues each have longstanding histories and share the common goal of solidifying minor professional hockey for our players, our passionate fans and their communities. I believe this arrangement will enable our teams to recruit the best young talent to join our league, with the potential of improving their game and moving up to the higher leagues.”

IHL teams plan to play under the Central Hockey League, CHL, moniker, with the identity of the IHL being maintained through various aspects that will be announced in the near future. Leaders of the CHL and IHL will meet during the week ahead to work out the remaining material terms.

The CHL has played in it’s current version since 1992, the IHL has played hockey for nearly 60 years.  The 2010-11 season is expected to start in mid-to-late October.