Vancouver, B.C. – The Western Hockey League wrapped up its Annual General Meeting Wednesday in Vancouver, highlighted by the confirmation of four host bids for the 2020 Memorial Cup and a number of new initiatives aimed at further enhancing the WHL’s Player Safety Seven Point Plan.
WHL Board of Governors – Elections
Bruce Hamilton has been re-elected as Chairman of the WHL Board of Governors for a new two-year term. Hamilton – the Owner, Governor, President and General Manager of the Kelowna Rockets – has been the active Chairman of the WHL Board of Governors since 2008. He previously served as Chairman of the WHL Board of Governors from 1998 to 2004. Hamilton is the longest-serving Chairman in WHL history.
Bobby Brett of the Spokane Chiefs (U.S. Division) and Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels (Central Division) have been elected to the Executive Committee of the WHL Board of Governors. Brett and Sutter join Ron Toigo of the Vancouver Giants (B.C. Division) and Gord Broda of the Prince Albert Raiders (East Division) on the WHL Executive Committee.
WHL Commissioner Ron Robison, who will be entering his 19th season at the helm of the WHL, is an ex-officio member of the Executive Committee
2020 Memorial Cup Bids Confirmed
Four WHL Clubs will vie for the right to host the Memorial Cup national championship when it returns to Western Canada in May, 2020. Confirmation was received from the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals, that all four WHL franchises intend to bid for the right to host the 2020 Memorial Cup.
The Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets had previously announced their respective intentions to bid for the prestigious national major junior championship, while this marks the official confirmation of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Victoria Royals intentions to compete to host the annual event.
On November 9, 2017, the Kamloops Blazers unveiled their initial plans to challenge for hosting rights for the 102nd Memorial Cup. The 2020 Memorial Cup will mark the 25-year anniversary since the Blazers last hosted the event in 1995 – a tournament the Club went on to win on home ice. The Blazers have won the Memorial Cup on three occasions (1992, 1994 and 1995).
Kamloops and the Sandman Centre – home of the Blazers – has hosted a number of prestigious, world-class events, including the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship, Hockey Canada Four Nations Cup, World Curling Championships, the Tim Horton’s Brier, the Canada Cup of Curling, World Junior Summer Showcase and the upcoming 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series.
On April 19, the Kelowna Rockets announced their initial plans to land the hosting rights for the 102nd Memorial Cup. Kelowna previously hosted the 2004 Memorial Cup, winning on home ice at Prospera Place. Including 2004’s host duties, the Rockets have made five appearances in the Memorial Cup (2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2015).
Kelowna and Prospera Place – home of the Rockets – has hosted a number of prestigious, world-class events, including the IIHF World Junior Championship, Canadian Men’s Olympic Orientation Camp, the 2009 CHL Canada Russia Series, as well as the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes represent the third WHL team set to bid to host the 2020 Memorial Cup. Lethbridge has appeared in two previous Memorial Cups – the Lethbridge Broncos in Portland in 1983 and the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Hull, Quebec in 1997.
Lethbridge and the Enmax Centre – home of the Hurricanes – has played hosted to a variety of prestigious, world-class events, including the 2013 CIBC Canada Russia Series, Women’s World Curling Championships, Professional Bull Riders tour events, Canada Winter Games, Alberta Summer Games, and a IIHF World Junior Championship exhibition game. Finally, Lethbridge will host the 2019 World Curling Championship and the 2019 U SPORTS University Cup.
The Victoria Royals serve as the fourth WHL team who have confirmed they will be bidding to host the 2020 Memorial Cup. Although the current Victoria Royals franchise has not appeared in a Memorial Cup, the Victoria Cougars participated in the Memorial Cup in 1981.
Victoria and the Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena – home of the Royals – has welcomed a number of prestigious, world-class events, including Men’s World Curling Championships, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, WWE Wrestling, the 2009 and 2012 CHL Canada Russia Series, and Canadian Figure Skating Championships. Finally, Victoria will host the 2019 World Junior Championship.
New Measures Taken to Enhance the WHL Player Safety Seven Point Plan
The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head. The WHL Seven Point Plan was first adopted in 2011 to establish a comprehensive education and prevention plan to address player safety issues.
In strengthening the WHL’s Player Safety – Seven-Point Plan, Kevin Acheson has been appointed WHL Director, Player Safety. In this new role, Acheson will be responsible to oversee all on-ice discipline and supplemental discipline matters during pre-season, regular season and playoff games.
Acheson, a native of Edmonton, Alta., and a former WHL Referee, previously held the role of WHL Assistant Director, Officiating.
Former NHL Referee Tom Kowal Appointed WHL Officiating Development Coach
Maintaining its proud stance as a progressive development leader, not only for players, but for coaches and officials alike, the WHL has appointed former NHL Referee Tom Kowal to the position of WHL Officiating Development Coach.
A native of Vernon, B.C., Kowal began his officiating career in the WHL in 1988 before spending 20 seasons as a referee in the NHL. Kowal retired as an NHL referee at the end of the 2017-18 season.
In his new position, Kowal will be responsible for developing a coaching plan for WHL Officials, providing game and video supervision of WHL Officials, as well as developing video training materials to provide professional development opportunities for WHL Officials.
WHL Leadership Conference to be held in Conjunction with Hlinka Gretzky Cup
With world-class development at the forefront of the WHL model, the WHL is pleased to announce that WHL General Managers, Coaches and Officials will participate in a WHL Leadership Conference this August. The WHL Leadership Conference will be held August 8 to 10 in Edmonton, Alta., in conjunction with the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
The WHL Leadership Conference will bring together General Managers, Coaches and Officials from across the WHL and provide them with an outstanding professional development opportunity featuring NHL General Managers and Head Coaches along with leading instructors at the international level.
The WHL Leadership Conference provides an unparalleled opportunity for WHL General Managers, Coaches and Officials to engage with some of hockey’s most talented and knowledgeable individuals, as they continue to develop in their respective areas of responsibility.
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 consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five 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 over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 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.