Western Hockey League (1952–1974)

The Western Hockey League (WHL) was a minor pro ice hockey league that operated from its 1952-1953 season through the 1973-1974 season. Managed for most of its history by Al Leader, it was originally the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL), which had absorbed three teams from the Western Canada Senior Hockey League for the 1951-1952 season before renaming itself one year later. During the 1960s, the WHL moved into a number of large west coast markets including Los Angeles and San Francisco. There was speculation that the WHL could grow into a major league capable of rivalling even the long-entrenched National Hockey League.[1]

Western Hockey League (1952–1974)
SportIce hockey
Founded1952
FounderAl Leader
Ceased1974
Countries United States
 Canada
Last
champion(s)
Phoenix Roadrunners
Most titlesVancouver Canucks (4)

In the 1965–66 and 1967–68 seasons, the WHL played an interlocking schedule with the American Hockey League. Fears that the WHL (or a WHL/AHL merger) could become a rival major league was among the factors that finally convinced the National Hockey League to expand for the 1967–68 season.[2]

Several factors led to the WHL's decision to cease operations after the 1973–74 season. The NHL and World Hockey Association had moved into many of its traditional markets, and the talent pool had become strained by the fast growth in the number of professional teams. When the NHL announced in June 1974 that the owners of both the Denver Spurs and Seattle Totems had been granted "conditional" NHL franchises (neither of which came to fruition), the WHL announced the same day that it was folding. A few of its surviving teams were absorbed into the Central Hockey League (CHL), though the Phoenix Roadrunners franchise did join the WHA for the 1974–75 season, and the Denver Spurs would jump from the CHL to the WHA for the 1975–76 season (but folded mid-season).

The championship trophy of the WHL was the Lester Patrick Cup, which is currently on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Teams

Timeline

List of Champions

SeasonWinnerRunner Up
1952–53Edmonton FlyersSaskatoon Quakers
1953–54Calgary StampedersEdmonton Flyers
1954–55Edmonton FlyersCalgary Stampeders
1955–56Winnipeg WarriorsVancouver Canucks
1956–57Brandon RegalsNew Westminster Royals
1957–58Vancouver CanucksCalgary Stampeders
1958–59Seattle TotemsCalgary Stampeders
1959–60Vancouver CanucksVictoria Cougars
1960–61Portland BuckaroosSeattle Totems
1961–62Edmonton FlyersSpokane Comets
1962–63San Francisco SealsSeattle Totems
1963–64San Francisco SealsLos Angeles Blades
1964–65Portland BuckaroosVictoria Maple Leafs
1965–66Victoria Maple LeafsPortland Buckaroos
1966–67Seattle TotemsVancouver Canucks
1967–68Seattle TotemsPortland Buckaroos
1968–69Vancouver CanucksPortland Buckaroos
1969–70Vancouver CanucksPortland Buckaroos
1970–71Portland BuckaroosPhoenix Roadrunners
1971–72Denver SpursPortland Buckaroos
1972–73Phoenix RoadrunnersSalt Lake Golden Eagles
1973–74Phoenix RoadrunnersPortland Buckaroos

Championships by Team

TeamChampionships Runner Up
Vancouver Canucks42
Seattle Totems32
Portland Buckaroos36
Edmonton Flyers31
Phoenix Roadrunners21
San Francisco Seals20
Brandon Regals10
Calgary Stampeders13
Denver Spurs10
Victoria Maple Leafs11
Winnipeg Warriors10
Saskatoon Quakers01
New Westminster Royals01
Victoria Cougars01
Spokane Comets01
Los Angeles Blades01
Salt Lake Golden Eagles01

References

  1. Los Angeles Times, 27 March 1959, p.C1: Official Says Hockey Would Go Big Here
  2. David Cruise; Alison Griffiths (1991). Net Worth: Exploding the Myths of Pro Hockey. Stoddart Publishing.
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