Western Hockey League (1952–1974)

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

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]

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[edit]

Timeline[edit]

Salt Lake Golden EaglesDenver SpursSan Diego Gulls (1966-1974)San Francisco Seals (hockey)San Francisco Seals (hockey)Portland BuckaroosPhoenix Roadrunners (WHL)Victoria Maple LeafsDenver InvadersSpokane CometsSpokane SpokesSaskatoon QuakersSaskatoon/Saint Paul's RegalsBrandon RegalsWinnipeg Warriors (minor pro)Tacoma Rockets (PCHL and WHL)New Westminster RoyalsSaskatoon QuakersLos Angeles Blades (WHL)Victoria CougarsEdmonton FlyersCalgary Stampeders (hockey)Vancouver Canucks (WHL)Seattle TotemsSeattle AmericansSeattle Bombers

List of Champions[edit]

Season Winner Runner Up
1952–53 Edmonton Flyers Saskatoon Quakers
1953–54 Calgary Stampeders Edmonton Flyers
1954–55 Edmonton Flyers Calgary Stampeders
1955–56 Winnipeg Warriors Vancouver Canucks
1956–57 Brandon Regals New Westminster Royals
1957–58 Vancouver Canucks Calgary Stampeders
1958–59 Seattle Totems Calgary Stampeders
1959–60 Vancouver Canucks Victoria Cougars
1960–61 Portland Buckaroos Seattle Totems
1961–62 Spokane Comets Portland Buckaroos
1962–63 San Francisco Seals Seattle Totems
1963–64 San Francisco Seals Los Angeles Blades
1964–65 Portland Buckaroos Victoria Maple Leafs
1965–66 Victoria Maple Leafs Portland Buckaroos
1966–67 Seattle Totems Vancouver Canucks
1967–68 Seattle Totems Portland Buckaroos
1968–69 Vancouver Canucks Portland Buckaroos
1969–70 Vancouver Canucks Portland Buckaroos
1970–71 Portland Buckaroos Phoenix Roadrunners
1971–72 Denver Spurs Portland Buckaroos
1972–73 Phoenix Roadrunners Salt Lake Golden Eagles
1973–74 Phoenix Roadrunners Portland Buckaroos

Championships by Team

Team Championships
Vancouver Canucks 4
Seattle Totems 3
Portland Buckaroos 3
Edmonton Flyers 3
Phoenix Roadrunners 2
San Francisco Seals 2
Brandon Regals 1
Calgary Stampeders 1
Denver Spurs 1
Victoria Maple Leafs 1
Winnipeg Warriors 1

References[edit]

  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.

External links[edit]