The WHL is one of three leagues that constitutes the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) as the highest level of junior hockey in Canada. Teams play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with the winner moving on to play for the Memorial Cup, Canada's national junior championship. WHL teams have won the Memorial Cup 19 times since the league became eligible to compete for the trophy. Many players have been drafted from WHL teams, and have found success at various levels of professional hockey, including the National Hockey League (NHL).
The league was founded in 1966, as the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL), with seven western Canadian teams in Saskatchewan and Alberta. For its 1967 season, the league was renamed the Western Canada Junior Hockey League (WCJHL). From 1968, the league was renamed the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), before the admission of American-based teams in the league and then renaming as the Western Hockey League (WHL) commencing in 1978, up to present day.
The league was the brainchild of Bill Hunter, who intended to build a western league capable of competing with the top leagues in Ontario and Quebec. Originally considered an "outlaw league" by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, it was not sanctioned as the top junior league in Western Canada until 1970, when Canadian junior hockey was reorganized.
The WHL is composed of 22 teams as of 2019, divided into two conferences of two divisions. The Eastern Conference comprises 12 teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, while the Western Conference comprises ten teams from British Columbia, and the US states of Washington and Oregon.
Western Hockey League [1968-2022] history and statistics at hockeydb.com