Western Hockey League to open 2023-24 season Friday
Calgary, Alta. – Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison will officially launch the 2023-24 WHL Regular Season on Friday. The WHL enters its 58th season as all 22 WHL member Clubs across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest begin the journey in pursuit of a WHL Championship.
“As I enter my 24th and final season with the WHL, it is time to reflect on my tenure with this great League,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison in an open letter to fans and stakeholders. “I can honestly say it has been a very rewarding experience in every respect and this is largely due to the tremendous support and cooperation I have received over the years from the Board of Governors, our member Clubs and our WHL Office management and staff. We all take great pride in the WHL being regarded as a world-leading development league and this is a direct result of everyone associated with the League making the commitment to operate at the highest standard possible.
“The future is very bright for the WHL. After the great fortune of witnessing a generational talent the calibre of Connor Bedard, WHL fans everywhere can’t wait to see the next wave of WHL talent, which will be unveiled this season and in the years to come. Let’s drop the puck and enjoy another great season of WHL hockey.”
Read the complete Open Letter from WHL Commissioner Ron Robison HERE.
WHL Commissioner Ron Robison Commences Final Season
The 2023-24 WHL season marks the 24th and final season for longtime WHL Commissioner Ron Robison.
Robison, who hails from Indian Head, Sask., joined the WHL as Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer prior to the start of the 2000-01 season after spending nearly 20 years as a senior executive with Hockey Canada.
Following 24 seasons at the helm of the WHL, Robison will depart as the longest-serving WHL Commissioner to date. Former WHL President Ed Chynoweth guided the WHL for 21 seasons (1973-79; 1980-95).
Under Robison’s leadership, the WHL experienced unprecedented growth and survived the challenges of a global pandemic, only to return as strong as ever. The WHL is the world’s largest Major Junior hockey league in the world with 22 member Clubs throughout Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The WHL continues to serve as a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League and Canada’s National Hockey Teams, and is also a leading supplier of hockey scholarships, with close to 400 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice.
Over the course of the 2023-24 WHL season, Commissioner Robison will be visiting all 22 WHL markets.
WHL Continues to Serve as a Leading Supplier of Talent for the NHL
The 2023 NHL Draft saw Connor Bedard selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, marking the first time a WHL player was chosen first since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers, 2011). For the second consecutive year, eight WHL players were selected in the top-40 of the NHL Draft.
The WHL once again projects to be a leader in the 2024 NHL Draft, led by Berkly Catton of the Spokane Chiefs, Carter Yakemchuk of the Calgary Hitmen, Charlie Elick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, and Cayden Lindstrom of the Medicine Hat Tigers, among many others.
Wenatchee Wild Begin First WHL Season
In June, the WHL formally approved the Wenatchee Wild as the sixth Club in the WHL’s U.S. Division, following the relocation of the Winnipeg ICE.
Set to play out of Town Toyota Center – a 4,300-seat multi-purpose arena that has served Wenatchee since 2008, the Wild are led by General Manager Bliss Littler and Head Coach Kevin Constantine.
Constantine returns to the WHL for the first time since 2017. Having served as an NHL head coach for seven season, Constantine previously served as Head Coach of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips from 2003 to 2007 and 2013 to 2017. He earned the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy, presented to the WHL Coach of the Year, after leading the expansion Silvertips to the WHL Championship Series.
On the ice, the Wild are led by a strong contingent of NHL-calibre prospects, including Buffalo Sabres prospect Zach Benson.
The Wild play its first WHL Regular Season game Friday, September 22 when the Portland Winterhawks visit Wenatchee.
Warriors and Cougars Celebrate Anniversaries
The Moose Jaw Warriors are set to celebrate 40 years of the Club’s time in the Friendly City. Moving to Moose Jaw from Winnipeg, the 1984-85 WHL season marked the first campaign for the Warriors. Since then, the team has been a mainstay in Moose Jaw and a constant competitor in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
– MORE DETAILS on the Warriors 40th Anniversary
The Prince George Cougars will celebrate 30 years. Moving to Prince George from Victoria, the 1994-95 season represented the first campaign for the Cougars in Northern B.C. Since then, the Cougars have been part of the fabric of Prince George and this season they will look to challenge for a B.C. Division title.
– MORE DETAILS on the Cougars 30th Anniversary
Inter-Conference Play Sees U.S. Division Visit Central Division for First Time Since 2020
For the second consecutive season, inter-conference play highlights the WHL Regular Season schedule.
The 2023-24 WHL Regular Season features the WHL’s East Division Clubs travelling south of the border to take on the U.S. Division, while the WHL’s U.S. Division will visit the Central Division for the first time since 2020.
The WHL’s B.C. Division Clubs will make the trek to the East Division in 2023-24, while Central Division teams will embark on a B.C. Division tour.
2024 WHL Playoffs
The 2024 WHL Playoffs are scheduled to begin Friday, March 29.
The Conference Playoff format returns for the second consecutive season, having been approved for three seasons. The 2022 WHL Playoffs marked the first year of Conference Playoff competition since the 2014 WHL Playoffs.
The first-place teams in the two Divisions in each Conference will receive the top two playoff seeds based on Regular Season points. The next six Clubs in each Conference, based on Regular Season points, will receive the third to eighth playoff positions.
Clubs advancing to the second round and Conference Championships will be reseeded each round based on Regular Season points. The two Conference Champions will advance to the WHL Championship Series, with the Club possessing the most Regular Season points receiving home-ice advantage.
All series throughout the 2024 WHL Playoffs will follow a best-of-seven format.
The 2024 WHL Championship Series is scheduled to be played from Friday, May 10 to Monday, May 20 with the WHL Champion advancing to the 2024 Memorial Cup in Saginaw, Mich., from Friday, May 24 to Sunday, June 2.
The 2024 WHL Championship Series and 2024 Memorial Cup will be televised nationally by TSN, the national broadcast partner of the WHL and CHL.
WHL Live on CHL TV Remains Your All-Access Hub for Live Games
For the low price of $124.99 plus tax, you can subscribe to WHL Live All-Access at watch.chl.ca – including 748 games of WHL Regular Season action, plus additional free content.
WHL Live on CHL TV is available through the CHL App, including OTT applications for Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku.
WHL Scholarship Set for 31st Season of Success
Established on a league-wide basis in 1993-94, over 7,500 WHL Scholarships have been accessed, representing an investment of over $35 million by WHL Clubs.
Every player who plays in the WHL is eligible to receive the WHL Scholarship. For every season a player plays in the WHL, they receive a guaranteed, full-year WHL Scholarship, including tuition, textbooks and compulsory fees to a post-secondary institution of their choice. WHL players can also access financial assistance for post-secondary courses while playing in the League prior to accessing their WHL Scholarship. The WHL and Athabasca University have partnered to offer, through online and other distance education vehicles, fully-accredited university courses to any WHL player or WHL Graduate interested in further pursuing post-secondary studies while playing in the WHL or after they graduate from the League.
WHL’s Industry-Leading Respect in Hockey Program Educates Over 2,000 Players and Staff
On September 14, the WHL announced over 2,000 players and staff had completed the WHL’s industry-leading Respect in Hockey online education program.
Designed to educate players on consent, healthy relationships, diversity, and the risks of bullying, hazing, harassment, and abuse, the WHL Respect in Hockey program is helping to change the culture in hockey by fostering a safe and healthy environment for all players and staff. – READ MORE
WHL Vision and Cornerstones
The WHL Vision remains to stand as the world’s premier Major Junior hockey league by continuing to provide the best player development and education opportunities while delivering a high level of entertainment value for fans.
The WHL Vision is guided by four WHL Cornerstones:
- Development – a world-class development experience for players, coaches, officials and staff.
- Education – a guaranteed post-secondary academic scholarship for all players.
- Respect – a comprehensive Respect in Hockey program promotes a safe and inclusive environment for all participants.
- Community – a leading fan engagement experience delivering quality entertainment and support for the community.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL offers a world-class player experience featuring three key cornerstones: hockey development, education, and a safe and positive environment for all participants. A diverse and inclusive organization, the WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 16 located in Western Canada and six in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for close to 60 years. The WHL is also a leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.