The Choppers began play in the 1990–91 season, but ran into several major roadblocks. By this time, the IHL had firmly established itself as a top-level feeder league for the NHL. The entrenched American Hockey League was unnerved by the IHL's expansion into its traditional stronghold in the Northeast, and hastily planted a team just across the Hudson in neighboring Troy, the Capital District Islanders. Not only were the Choppers essentially an expansion team, but they also had to foot the travel expenses for six IHL teams as a condition of being allowed to move to Albany. They were unable to secure a full NHL affiliation (and its subsidized salaries) and had to settle for a secondary affiliation with the Vancouver Canucks. They only had 11 players with NHL contracts. The team sank into last place, and attendance plummeted.
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