The Amateur Hockey Association played five of its first six seasons in a challenger format, a championship process we see in boxing where the winning party continues to hold the championship title until defeated. The AHAC did play its second season in 1888 in a balanced, round-robin format but switched back to challenge play from 1889 until 1892. In 1893 this all changed.
The six seasons from 1893 to 1898 are summarized below as a single entity because the AHAC adopted three critical practices in 1893:
- The AHAC would become the official premier hockey league when its champion was gifted the first ever Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup.
- The AHAC switched to an ongoing round-robin format for each subsequent season, a tradition that has been followed ever since.
- The membership of the AHAC would become set with five premier clubs: Montreal Hockey Club, Montreal Victorias, Montreal Crystals/Shamrocks, Quebec Hockey Club, and Ottawa Hockey Club.
|Montreal Hockey Club||48||28||20||0||185||135||2/6|
|Ottawa Hockey Club||48||28||20||0||173||140||0/6|
|Quebec Hockey Club||47||17||29||1||141||204||0/6|
* The Montreal Crystals were absorbed into and replaced by the Shamrocks in 1895.
SW/SP = Seasons Won / Seasons Played