The WHL Co-Founders...
The Western Hockey League continues to grow, with the addition of the Chilliwack Bruins last season and Edmonton Oil Kings joining the WHL this year. The WHL Member Clubs wish to pay tribute to the individuals who co-founded the League in 1966 - Scotty Munro, Bill Hunter, Jim Piggott and Del Wilson.
Scotty Munro had a vision. Having dominated the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with the Estevan Bruins in the early 1960's, it was time to break away from the provincial league and form the Western Canada Hockey League. Munro's concept was enthusiastically endorsed by Bill Hunter of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Del Wilson of the Regina Pats and Jim Piggott of the Saskatoon Blades. Later, Moose Jaw, Weyburn and Calgary also agreed to form the new seven-team WCHL for the inaugural 1966-67 season. Munro owned and operated the Estevan Bruins before selling his shares in the Club in 1969 and moving on to manage the Calgary Centennials. Munro was not only a visionary and shrewd operator, but also an outstanding coach as many of his players in Estevan and later with the Calgary Centennials went on to highly successful NHL careers. Scotty Munro, a native of Swift Current, Saskatchewan passed away in 1975.
Bill Hunter was one of Canada's most flamboyant personalities and a sports promoter who recognized the potential for major junior hockey to expand throughout Western Canada. As Owner/President of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Hunter was a driving force behind the formation of the Western Canada Hockey League in 1966. Having guided the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup Championship in 1965-66 he enthusiastically endorsed Scotty Munro's recommendation to form a regional major junior league in Western Canada. In 1966-67 the Edmonton Oil Kings became one of seven franchises in the new WCHL and Hunter was named the League's first Chairman of the Board. Hunter, was also the co-founder of the World Hockey Association in 1972-73 and passed away in December 2002.
Jim Piggott's association with Saskatoon's junior and professional hockey teams began in the early 1950's. Piggott, having established himself in the construction industry, entered the hockey scene in 1951 as a part owner of the Saskatoon Quakers of the now defunct Western Professional Hockey League. Piggott then operated the Saskatoon Junior Quakers from 1955 to 1964 before entering the Saskatoon Blades in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) for the 1964-65 season. After two seasons in the SJHL, Piggott agreed to move the Blades to the newly formed Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). Piggott's Blades became one of the most successful franchises in the WCHL inaugural season. Jim Piggott, a native of Bangor, Saskatchewan, was owner of the Saskatoon Blades until his passing in July 1979.
Del Wilson was a scout in Western Canada for the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL when he was appointed General Manager of the Regina Pats in 1955. Wilson spent 15 seasons as the Pats General Manager until joining the Canadiens as a full time scout for the 1969-70 season. In 1970-71 Wilson headed a group which purchased the Regina Pats. As President and General Manager of a highly respected Pats organization, Wilson led Regina to a Memorial Cup Championship in 1974. Wilson sold his interest in the Regina Pats in 1980 ending a 25 year association with junior hockey in Regina but continued to serve as a scout in the Canadiens organization. Wilson retired from the Canadiens in 1985 having served 47 years with Montreal in a scouting capacity. Wilson, who served as WHL Chairman and Referee-in-Chief, was a driving force in not only establishing the Western Canada Hockey League in 1966 but also the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League in 1973. Del currently resides in Campbell River, BC.
The Western Hockey League, originally referred to as the Western Canada Hockey League was formed in 1966. The 1966-67 inaugural season consisted of seven member clubs: Calgary Buffaloes; Edmonton Oil Kings; Estevan Bruins; Moose Jaw Canucks; Regina Pats; Saskatoon Blades and Weyburn Red Wings.