The always hungry league is a slang term for the American Hockey League. The American Hockey League is one tier below the NHL and often has its players called up to the NHL when they are playing well. Since players are in the AHL are always working to get to the next level it is referred to as the always hungry league.
The term always hungry league also fits well because it matches the acronym of AHL.
Despite the jokes about the AHL, it is still one of the best hockey leagues in the world. When an NHL team drafts players they are often not ready to start playing in the NHL right away.
These players will often spend a year on their junior team before being called up to the AHL. Once in the AHL, these players will have a chance to get used to playing the game of hockey at a high quality.
Many of these young players have never played hockey with grown men. Those that come from Europe are often accustomed to a different style of hockey than what is played in North America.
The AHL gives these players a chance to get used to the North American style of hockey before they make their jump to the national league.
Alternatively, the AHL is where NHLers often play their final few years of hockey. If an NHL player begins to lose a step on the ice as they age they will often be sent to the AHL.
This is usually not a great experience for these players as they are treated very differently compared to when they are playing in the NHL.
Why Is It Called The Always Hungry League?
Now that you know the term always hungry league is in reference to the American hockey league you may be wondering how this name was earned. The term itself is usually said in jest but the idea behind the always hungry league makes sense.
Almost all the players in the AHL are looking for a way to get their shot in the National Hockey League. These players will often give maximum effort every single night in order to impress scouts and coaches.
Playing at a high enough level in the AHL is one of the best ways to get yourself a shot in the NHL. For this reason, this league is extremely competitive.
These players have all come a long way in their hockey careers and are now on the final step away from making it to the best hockey league in the world.
This results in the players of this league playing incredibly hard day in day out. Being a low effort player in this league is likely going to have a player sticking out like a sore thumb.
Some hockey fans joke that the term always hungry league is used to describe the AHL due to the lack of bells and whistles it has compared to the NHL.
In the national hockey league, you are taking private jets and going to fancy dinners after most games. While the AHL typically includes bus rides and run of the mill restaurants for teams to eat at after the game.
Some ex-players joke that the term always hungry league is used to describe these players because they don’t have a chance to eat at the nice restaurants that national hockey league players do.