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Western Hockey League (1952–1974)
|Countries|| United States
|Most titles||Vancouver Canucks (4)|
The Western Hockey League (WHL) was a minor professional ice hockey league based in Western Canada that operated from 1952 to 1974. The league was managed for most of its history by Al Leader, and had roots in the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Western Canada Senior Hockey League. The championship trophy of the WHL was the Lester Patrick Cup.
The league was founded in 1948 as the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL). In 1951, it absorbed three teams from the Western Canada Senior Hockey League. In 1952, it adopted the WHL name. In the late 1950s, Ron Butlin and Arthur Ryan Smith hosted a hot stove league on radio broadcasts of the league.
The Western Hockey League was managed for most of its history by Al Leader.
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.
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.
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).
- Brandon Regals (1955–1957)
- Calgary Stampeders (1952–1963)
- California Seals (1966–1967)
- Denver Invaders (1963–1964)
- Denver Spurs (1968–1974)
- Edmonton Flyers (1952–1963)
- Los Angeles Blades (1961–1967)
- New Westminster Royals (1952–1959)
- Phoenix Roadrunners (1967–1974)
- Portland Buckaroos (1960–1974)
- Salt Lake Golden Eagles (1969–1974)
- San Diego Gulls (1966–1974)
- San Francisco Seals (1961–1966)
- Saskatoon Quakers (1952–1959)
- Seattle Americans (1955–1958)
- Seattle Bombers (1952–1954)
- Seattle Totems (1958–1975)
- Spokane Comets (1959–1963)
- Spokane Spokes (1958-1959)
- Tacoma Rockets (1952–1953)
- Vancouver Canucks (1952–1970)
- Victoria Cougars (1952–1961)
- Victoria Maple Leafs (1964–1967)
- Winnipeg Warriors (1955–1961)
List of champions
|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||Edmonton Flyers||Spokane Comets|
|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
|San Francisco Seals||2||0|
|Victoria Maple Leafs||1||1|
|New Westminster Royals||0||1|
|Los Angeles Blades||0||1|
|Salt Lake Golden Eagles||0||1|
- Stott, Jon C. (2008). Ice Warriors: The Pacific Coast/Western Hockey League 1948–1974. Surrey, British Columbia: Heritage House Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-894974-54-7.
- Slade, Daryl (2014-06-26). "Calgary sporting pioneer dies in B.C. at age 89". Calgary Herald. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
- Los Angeles Times, 27 March 1959, p.C1: Official Says Hockey Would Go Big Here
- David Cruise; Alison Griffiths (1991). Net Worth: Exploding the Myths of Pro Hockey. Stoddart Publishing.
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