Canadian Hockey League

The Canadian Hockey League (CHL; French: Ligue canadienne de hockey ‒ LCH) is an umbrella organization that represents the three Canada-based major junior ice hockey leagues. The CHL was founded in 1975 as the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League,[1] and is composed of its three member leagues, the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. For the 2018-19 season, its three leagues and 60 teams represent nine Canadian provinces (52 teams) as well as four American states (8 teams).

Canadian Hockey League
Canadian Hockey League
SportIce hockey
PresidentDavid Branch
No. of teams60
United States
Most recent
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1)
TV partner(s)Sportsnet
Sportsnet One
Shaw TV (WHL and OHL)
Rogers TV/TV Rogers (OHL)
Eastlink TV/TVA Sports (QMJHL)

The CHL schedule culminates in the Memorial Cup tournament, which sees each of the three league champions, as well as a host team, play a round-robin tournament to determine a national champion. The CHL also hosts the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, for the top draft eligible players in the league, as well as the CHL Canada/Russia Series, a six-game all-star exhibition series against a team of Russian juniors. The current president is David Branch, and Gilles Courteau and Ron Robison are vice-presidents. In September 2019, Dan MacKenzie is scheduled to take over as the new full-time president.


The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) is the governing body for Major Junior hockey (formerly known as Tier One Junior A), the top level of amateur hockey in Canada. The CHL currently oversees the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), with the OHL and WHL having teams in both Canada and the United States. Each league plays individual regular season schedules, and playoffs. The annual CHL championship is determined by the Memorial Cup tournament held in May.

The CHL is generally considered the world's top junior hockey league for developing professional players and is a key supplier of new players and officials for the many North American professional hockey leagues, such as the National Hockey League, American Hockey League, and the ECHL.[2] If a CHL player does not sign a professional contract, many also opt to play for U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport - CIS) and go to school due to CHL sponsored scholarship programs. However, due to the use of paying player stipends and allowing junior players that have signed entry level contracts with the NHL,[3] all CHL teams are considered professional by the NCAA; thus any player who plays a game at the Major Junior level loses their eligibility to play for universities in the United States.[4]

The CHL also seeks to raise the profile of the junior game by hosting annual events such as the Memorial Cup, the CHL Top Prospects Game and the Subway Super Series. The organization also provides many scholarships and bursaries for its players who exemplify extraordinary efforts and community involvement. These programs are supported by the many corporate sponsors.

On July 30, 2019, Dan MacKenzie was announced as the new full-time president as of September 2019, taking over for David Branch.[5][6][7]

Annual events

Memorial Cup

The Memorial Cup Tournament is the championship of Junior Canadian hockey. Each year it features the champions from the (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) and the host CHL team. The host team changes from year to year, and is selected by a bidding process prior to the start of each season. The annual event is one of the biggest sporting events in North America, attracting thousands of spectators and generating increasing revenue for both the CHL teams and the host city.

CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is an annual event sponsored by Home Hardware and hosted by the CHL in which 40 of the top NHL Entry Draft eligible prospects in the Canadian Hockey League play against each other much like an all-star game. Each draft prospect hopes to boost their draft ranking with the NHL scouts and general managers who attend. The players are typically coached by a pair of hockey celebrities, usually Don Cherry and Bobby Orr. The event has been held annually since 1992. From 1992 to 1995 the event was known as the CHL All-Star Challenge and usually pitted one of the CHL's leagues against the other two.

CHL Canada/Russia Series

The CHL Canada/Russia Series is an annual junior ice hockey exhibition tournament held between a select team of Russian players and all-star teams representing the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The event is organized by the Canadian Hockey League and consists of six games total each year, with the Russian Selects playing two games versus each league's all-star team. All games are broadcast nationally in Canada on Sportsnet. The series often features players from the Canadian national junior team, and the Russian national junior team.

CHL Import Draft

The CHL Import Draft is an annual event in which every team in the Canadian Hockey League may select the rights to eligible import players. An import is classified as a player whose parents are not residents of Canada or the United States. The draft is conducted online, during the last week of June, or first week of July. Teams from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, systematically take turns making selections in reverse order of the team's standings in the CHL from the previous season. Teams can have a maximum of two imports, which may only be obtained through the draft.

Trophies and awards

The Canadian Hockey League awards sixteen annual trophies for accomplishments during the regular and at the Memorial Cup to top individuals and teams among its three member leagues. The Memorial Cup is the top award for the championship team at the end-of-season Memorial Cup tournament. A set of five individual awards are given for performance at the tournament. In the regular season, Canadian Hockey League also presents ten annual awards.[8] The nominees for each individual award are determined by the winner of the corresponding award handed out by each of the Canadian Hockey League's three member leagues, the Ontario Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the Western Hockey League.[9]

Memorial Cup — Tournament awards
Trophy nameRecognitionFoundedCurrent recipient(s)
Memorial CupCanadian Hockey League champion1919Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Stafford Smythe Memorial TrophyMost valuable player1972Joël Teasdale
George Parsons TrophyMost sportsmanlike player1974Nick Suzuki
Hap Emms Memorial TrophyOutstanding goaltender1975Alexis Gravel
Ed Chynoweth TrophyLeading scorer1996Jakub Lauko
Memorial Cup All-Star TeamBest player at each position1975Alexis Gravel, Sean Durzi,
Noah Dobson, Isaac Ratcliffe,
Félix Bibeau, Benoit-Olivier Groulx
Regular season — Individual awards
Trophy nameRecognitionFoundedCurrent recipient(s)
Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year AwardCoach of the year1988Mario Pouliot
CHL Player of the YearMost outstanding player1975Alexis Lafrenière
CHL Top Scorer AwardTop scoring player1994Jason Robertson
CHL Goaltender of the YearMost outstanding goaltender1988Ian Scott
CHL Defenceman of the YearMost outstanding defenceman1988Ty Smith
CHL Rookie of the YearMost outstanding rookie1988Quinton Byfield
CHL Top Draft Prospect AwardTop draft prospect1991Bowen Byram
CHL Scholastic Player of the YearTop scholastic player1988Dustin Wolf
CHL Sportsman of the YearMost sportsmanlike player1990Justin Almeida
CHL Humanitarian of the YearTop humanitarian player1993Charle-Edouard D'Astous
CHL Executive of the YearMost outstanding executive1989not awarded since 2002


For the 2016–17 season the league comprises 60 teams located in nine Canadian provinces (52 teams) and four American states (8 teams). Currently, nine of the ten Canadian provinces have a member team. Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province without a team.


Listed below are the top CHL teams by average attendance for the 2018–19 regular season. Teams with an average attendance over 5,000 are shown.[10][11][12]

The CHL single game attendance record is held by the London Knights and Plymouth Whalers for the December 29, 2013 outdoor game at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. A total of 26,384 spectators took in the game.[13]

Pos. Team League Average
1.Quebec RempartsQMJHL9,230
2.London KnightsOHL8,997
3.Halifax MooseheadsQMJHL8,149
4.Edmonton Oil KingsWHL7,661
5.Calgary HitmenWHL7,363
6.Kitchener RangersOHL6,859
7.Spokane ChiefsWHL5,959
8.Portland WinterhawksWHL5,916
9.Everett SilvertipsWHL5,614
10.Regina PatsWHL5,201
11.Moncton WildcatsQMJHL5,148
12.Oshawa GeneralsOHL5,043
13.Niagara IceDogsOHL5,035


  1. :::: The Official Ohl Website ::::
  2. "2018 Draft Prospect Rankings". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  3. "Learning About the Western Hockey League and Major Junior Hockey". Five for Howling. February 23, 2010.
  4. "Daily Dish: Major Junior Misunderstanding". Junior Hockey News. September 3, 2013.
  5. Beneteau, Josh (2019-07-30). "CHL hires NBA executive Dan MacKenzie to be first full-time president". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  6. Zwolinski, Mark. "Dan MacKenzie named CHL's first full-time president". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  7. Harrigan, Scott (2019-07-30). "CHL Names Dan MacKenzie First Full-Time President". Independent Sports News. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  8. "History – Awards". Mastercard Memorial Cup. Canadian Hockey League. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  9. "CHL Awards". Canadian Hockey League. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  10. "Ontario Hockey League 2018-19 Attendance Graph". Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  11. "Quebec Major Junior Hockey League 2018-19 Attendance Graph". Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  12. "Western Hockey League 2018-19 Attendance Graph". Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  13. "Spits top Spirit 6-5 at Comerica Park". 30 December 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
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