Since 1966, the Western Hockey League, or the WHL, has been providing countless cities across Canada and the US with solid prime time junior hockey, and this year is no exception. In honour of the 2012 playoffs, we’re giving away free night stays throughout the 3rd and 4th rounds, something that adds a little spice to the season of scoring… or not scoring depending on who you root for.
To enter our ‘Guess the Score and Win More’ contest, all you have to do is… well, guess the score… and win. Don’t think it can get any easier than that. To enter, click here: http://ht.ly/apLqA.
As the official hotel sponsor of the WHL, Sandman has been keeping a close eye on all the action – particularly with the Canadian teams. A proud Canadian company with hotels in many of the WHL team cities, we’re happy to see several maple syrup-drinking, loon-loving players in the running towards the Memorial Cup – because , really, what Canadian doesn’t love our cool national sport.
Now, if you’re a little hazy on the whole ‘what is the WHL thing’ don’t worry, you’re not alone. With so many leagues, the NHL, AHL, WHL and the CWHL (the Canadian Women’s hockey league) it’s easy to get confused. So we’ve got a few facts to straighten things out for you:
- The Western Hockey League was founded in 1966 with only 7 teams.
- The teams were from Saskatchewan and Alberta, and the intended purpose of the league was to compete with top junior hockey leagues in the East (namely Ontario and Quebec) and to increase the competition for Junior leagues in the West.
- The WHL is one of 3 major junior ice hockey leagues in the CHL (the Canadian Hockey League); the other two leagues are: the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The WHL’s teams are situated throughout Western Canada and the Northwestern United States.
- The CHL is highest level of junior hockey in Canada. Teams play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, and then the winners move on to play for the Memorial Cup, Canada’s national junior championship.
- The Western Hockey League, at one point, was considered as an “outlaw” league until 1971, when the CAHA (Canadian Amateur Hockey Association) officially recognized it.
Some Interesting WHL Factoids:
- In the mid-1970s, the New Westminster Bruins became the WHL’s first true dynasty, capturing four consecutive championships between 1975 and 1978. The Bruins also won back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1977 and 1978.
- The Kamloops Blazers became the WHL’s second dynasty when they won both the WHL Championships in 1984, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1995.
- On January 19, 1983, the Seattle Breakers traded the rights for Tom Martin to the Victoria Cougars in exchange for the Cougars’ team bus. A bizarre man for machine deal, the trade was made because the Breakers were unable to sign Martin, who wanted to play in his home town of Victoria, and the Cougars were unable to use the bus (which they had purchased from the folded Spokane Flyers) because they were unwilling to pay the taxes and duties required to register the vehicle in Canada.
- In 1995, the Calgary Hitmen were born when a group of investors, including WWF superstar Bret “the Hitman” Hart, (the inspiration behind the team name) decided to create a team.
- For the 2010–11 season, the WHL comprises 22 teams divided into two conferences, making it the largest league in the CHL; the Ontario Hockey League has 20 teams and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has 18.
Famous Players Anyone?
Among some of the famous WHL Players who play in the NHL today or who have in the past are:
- Alexander Edler, Ostersund, SWE (Kelowna Rockets)
- Shane Doan, Halkirk, AB (Kamloops Blazers)
- Mike Comrie, Edmonton, AB (Kootenay Ice)
- Marian Hossa, Stara Lubvona, CZE (Portland Winter Hawks)
- Mike Modano, Livonia, MI (Prince Albert Raiders)
- Joe Sakic, Burnaby, B.C. (Swift Current Broncos)
- Mark Recchi, Kamloops, B.C. (Kamloops Blazers)
- Dion Phaneuf, Edmonton, AB (Red Deer Rebels)
- Duncan Keith, Winnipeg, MB (Kelowna Rockets)
- Jarome Iginla, St. Albert, AB (Kamloops Blazers)
- Milan Lucic, Vancouver, B.C. (Vancouver Giants)
- Zdeno Chara, Trencin, SVK (Prince George Cougars)
- Scott Niedermayer, Edmonton, AB (Kamloops Blazers)
- Ryan Getzlaf, Regina, SK (Calgary Hitmen)
So those are the goods. The icing on the cake? If you follow the games like we do, or even if you don’t, you can still win a FREE night’s stay with Sandman in our WHL ‘Guess the Score and Win More’ contest. Seriously, guess the score and you could stay in one of these awesome locations:
That’s it! Good luck with our contest!