“It is with great sadness that I make this announcement,” IHL president and CEO Douglas Moss said in a statement. “With the landscape of minor-league hockey continuing to evolve, the league's board of governors determined that this was a necessary decision.”
The governors voted to fold the league during a conference call on Friday.
The Winnipeg-based Manitoba Moose, the Chicago Wolves, Houston Aeros, Milwaukee Admirals, Utah Grizzlies (Salt Lake City) and Grand Rapids Griffins will join the AHL as expansion teams for the 2000-2001 season. Grand Rapids (Ottawa Senators) and Manitoba (Vancouver) are NHL farm teams.
The decision also means that there will be no IHL hockey in Toronto, which was awarded an expansion franchise (Roadrunners) for the 2002-03 season.
Founded in 1945 as a four-team local league with two teams respectively in Detroit, Michigan and nearby Windsor, Ontario, the IHL expanded over the following decades and reached a high of 19 clubs in 1996-97. But a lot of franchises struggled and the league was down to only 11 teams this season.
The decision came only a week after the Orlando Solar Bears claimed their first Turner Cup/IHL title in franchise history with a 4-1 series victory over the Chicago Wolves.