WHL Frequently Asked Questions...
A majority of fans know that the Western Hockey League Office is located in Calgary, Alberta.
The 13-person operation is the control centre for the WHL and is where fans and parents look for answers to questions of all kinds.
Many questions are similar in nature and with that in mind, a list was compiled containing 20 of the most frequently asked queries at the League headquarters. The answers that follow come from the people who know and touch on topics ranging from player lists to working in the WHL.
1. Where do the players come from?
The Western Hockey League has teams in four Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia) and two States (Washington and Oregon). Players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming are protected for the WHL and are eligible to be listed by WHL clubs through regular WHL listing procedures. Top level players will develop through the various age groups of hockey and in the year of their 16th birthday, become eligible to play in the Western Hockey League. Players can begin playing, and continue to play in the WHL until the year of their 20th birthday, after which they graduate from the Major Junior ranks.
2. Is the Western Hockey League a professional league?
The WHL in an amateur league working in conjunction with the Canadian Hockey League and the Hockey Canada. Players do receive a very modest monthly stipend while playing in the WHL, which provides them with spending money that they cannot earn in part-time jobs due to the time commitments of school and hockey.
3. How does a player get the opportunity to play in the Western Hockey League?
Each of the member teams in the WHL has a 50 player protected list that includes current roster players as well as players projected to be able to play for the team in the future. Once placed on the list of a member team, a player must play with that team if he wishes to play at the Major Junior level. The first opportunity to list players is in the year of their 15th birthday. The WHL conducts a draft of 15 year old players where teams can first add players to their lists. Any players who are not listed at that time, can be added to a team's list until the year of their 20th birthday. The team simply contacts the WHL Office and can add any player who does not appear on the list of another Major Junior team. If the team's list is filled with 50 players and they wish to add a player, they must first release a player from their protected list. Players released from a protected list are free to be added by any other WHL team after a seven day waiting period. Players must appear on a team's list in order to play a WHL regular season or playoff game.
4. How does a player know when he has been listed or has been released from a list?
WHL teams notify the player when he is listed and when he is removed from a list.
5. Can players that are not listed attend training camps?
Yes. Training camps are open to players by invitation. Players who are not listed may still be invited to training camps and are free to choose which training camp they attend if they are invited to more than one.
6. How does a player get drafted in the Bantam Draft?
The bantam draft mirrors the National Hockey League Entry Draft in that all the teams attend a one day meeting and select players in inverse order of the previous season's standings. Teams now have extensive scouting staffs that watch bantam and midget hockey across Western Canada and the Western United States. They identify talent and rank potential and when they get to the draft, they select the players that they think will one day play for their club in the WHL. The bantam draft has become vital in building a winning program and teams spend considerable amounts of time on preparation.
7. Can you play Canadian University or College Hockey after playing in the WHL?
Universities and Colleges in Canada utilize WHL graduates extensively. Players in the WHL earn financial aid for post-secondary education while they are playing. In addition to that assistance, players remain eligible for scholarships available at Canadian institutions. If a WHL player wishes to, he can attend university or college in Canada, continue playing hockey at a high level of competition, and utilize academic and athletic scholarships in addition to education assistance earned during his WHL career.
8. How does participation in the Western Hockey League affect U.S. College eligibility?
The NCAA in the United States rules that if a player plays a game in the WHL or signs a Standard Player Agreement, he forfeits his eligibility to participate in hockey.
9. How does the WHL Scholarship work?
Players go to school while playing in the WHL, with their team paying for any expenses incurred. Many older players start their post-secondary programs. When a player joins the WHL, he signs a Standard Player Agreement through which he earns financial aid for every year that he plays in the WHL. Basically, a player receives one year of tuition and books for each year he plays in the WHL.
10. Where do the players live?
Players are billeted with families in the cities in which they play. Billets and players tend to bond very quickly with the billets becoming extended families that are very important to the players creating lifelong friendships.
11. How does the league schedule its games?
The interdivisional games are scheduled by the WHL Office. The balance of the schedule is finalized during meetings of team personnel. The Eastern Conference and the Western Conference hold schedule meetings, where the teams work together to schedule games. Factors that affect when games are played included, school schedules of the players, arena availability and preferred dates.
12. Can players be traded?
Players can be traded within the WHL up until a deadline that is usually early to mid-January. All trades must be submitted and approved by the WHL Office.
13. Why do all the players wear the same equipment?
The WHL has sponsorship agreements with various equipment suppliers through the Canadian Hockey League. The Hockey Company is a major sponsor and supplies all jerseys, pants, helmets, gloves and socks for all players in the WHL. The most visible suppliers who have been invaluable to the operation of Major Junior Hockey for many years include: The Hockey Company, Bauer / Nike Hockey, Easton, Itech, Graf, Lousiville, Sherwood and Vaughn. These suppliers also provide padding and equipment worn underneath the outer uniforms. WHL teams supply the equipment to the players to wear during the season.
14. Is there a WHL rulebook?
The Western Hockey League uses the NHL rulebook with some minor variations that are established by the CHL.
15. Where do the referees come from?
The on-ice officials develop through the provincial amateur associations, just as the players do. Because the Western Hockey League is a developmental league for the NHL, younger officials with professional potential are utilized. Most of the on-ice officials join the League after gaining experience in top midget leagues in their respective provinces. The on-ice officials are constantly under evaluation and receive training by the WHL staff and supervisors.
16. How many Europeans can play in the WHL?
Each WHL team is allowed up to a maximum of two non-North American players. These import players must be drafted through the Canadian Hockey League Import draft held during the summer in order to play in the WHL.
17. How many 20 year olds can a team use?
WHL teams are allowed a maximum of three overage players. Teams having more than three overage players to start the season may continue to rotate them in and out of the lineup until October 16th at which time they must select determine the three that they will keep. Other 20-year-olds become free agents for the other teams in the League. From October 16th until February 10th, teams may bring in an overage player, but, if they have three already, then they have to release one. February 10 of each year is the roster deadline and all players who are with a team on that date are there for the duration of the season.
18. Where did the Western Hockey League start?
There was a professional league in the early and middle years of the century that used the Western Hockey League name. However, the Major Junior circuit started up in 1966, called the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League, with teams in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The League was renamed the Western Canada Hockey League in 1967 and grew to encompass the four western Provinces in the years that followed. The arrival of teams based in the United States Pacific Northwest led to another name change, the Western Hockey League in 1978.
19. How do I get a job in the WHL?
As anyone can imagine, hockey is a very popular industry to work in. Entry into the field is difficult due to a limited number of jobs and the fact that most people are reluctant to leave once they have a position. Coaches are like players in a lot of cases, developing in the minor hockey ranks before finally getting an opportunity to coach in the WHL. Other staffing depends on the individual team needs. Summer is usually the time of turnover in the industry and is the time for resumes and interviews.
20. How do I get information on my favorite WHL players?
The Western Hockey League produces the WHL Media Guide, a yearly publication with information about all of the players in the League. The WHL Media Guide can be obtained through any of the teams or by contacting the WHL Office. Teams also produce their own publications that will provide you everything that you need to know about the players in the league. The offical website of the Western Hockey League is www.whl.ca and is a valuable source for all your hockey needs.