WHL LAUNCHES 47TH SEASON IN EDMONTON
Calgary, AB – Western Hockey League Commissioner, Ron Robison, officially launched the 2012-13 WHL season at a media conference today in Edmonton, Alberta. The WHL’s 47th Regular Season officially opens on Thursday, September 20 with a special season opening game between the 2012 WHL Champion Edmonton Oil Kings and the 2011 WHL Champion Kootenay Ice. The feature opening game will be televised LIVE on SHAW TV starting with a preview show and full coverage of opening night festivities at 7:00pm MT. The 2012-13 Regular Season gets into full swing on Friday, September 21 with eight WHL contests. This season the Saskatoon Blades and Western Hockey League will host the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup and to help start the count down to the historic event the Blades home-opener on Saturday, September 22 versus the Prince Albert Raiders will also be televised LIVE on SHAW TV starting at 7:00pm MT.
The WHL is also proud to recognize the continued efforts put forth by each of our 22 Member Clubs in developing the World’s finest young talent each season. This was again evident at the 2012 NHL Draft where five of the top eight players selected emerged from the WHL; Ryan Murray (Everett Silvertips), Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings), Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw Warriors), Mathew Dumba (Red Deer Rebels) and Derrick Pouliot (Portland Winterhawks). Many WHL graduates will also be taking advantage of the WHL Scholarship this academic year, a renowned program funded 100% by each of the WHL’s 22 Member Clubs. Over 300 WHL graduate players will attend a University, College or Trade School on a full WHL Scholarship this year. Since 1993, the WHL and its Member Clubs have awarded over 4,600 scholarships in excess of $15.2 million.
With player safety still at the forefront in the hockey world, the WHL continues to make strides to protect our players from concussions and other injuries with the ‘Seven Point Plan’. The WHL Seven Point Plan includes new playing rules; more severe suspensions for repeat offenders; production of an educational video on risks of concussions to educate the players to be more responsible for themselves on the ice; a seminar for all WHL Head Coaches and General Managers; new soft cap elbow and shoulder pads; expanded research data and a review of all WHL arena facilities safety standards.
For the upcoming season, the WHL Playing Rule changes include:
1. Adoption of a staged fighting rule. Should a fight occur following a face-off during a game, it will be considered a staged fight. Should a stage fight occur during a pre-season, regular season or playoff game, the players involved shall each receive an automatic game misconduct in addition to the major penalty. Should one player clearly initiate or instigate the fight, only that player will receive the game misconduct in addition to a minor penalty for instigating the fight. Should the linesmen intervene and prevent the fight from starting, the players involved will each receive misconduct penalties.
2. A delay of game penalty will be assessed any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from an opponent or to prevent an opponent from playing the puck.
3. A delay of game penalty will be assessed to any player taking a face-off who uses his hand to direct the puck in any direction.
“As a World leader in player development and scholarships, the WHL and our Member Clubs look forward to another exciting season of WHL hockey,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “We expect the 2012-13 season to once again be highly competitive as our teams battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a berth in the 2013 MasterCard Memorial in Saskatoon.”
The Western Hockey League is also pleased to acknowledge our prestige partners Kal Tire and Husky and thank both corporations for their extensive support of the WHL and its Member Clubs. The WHL would also like to recognize our official partners RE/MAX, BMO, Dickies, Sandman Hotels, Reebok, Home Hardware, Jack Links, Dodge, Subway and Old Dutch, together with our broadcast partners SHAW TV, Root Sports, Rogers Sportsnet and NeuLion. The WHL is also delighted to announce new partnerships this coming season with Post Cereals, Denny’s, the Insurance Brokers Association of Western Canada, Travelodge and General Paint.
The 2012-13 WHL season will be highlighted with three special events including the 2012 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup, 2012 SUBWAY® Super Series and 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. After a tremendous event in 2011, the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup returns to Alberta in 2012 with event dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks. The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup features the highest rated players in the Under 16 age category representing the four Western Provinces of Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The 2012 SUBWAY® Super Series , an integral part of the identification process for Canada’s National Junior Team final selection camp, features Team WHL taking on the Russian National Junior Team in game five of the series on Wednesday, November 14 in Vancouver, BC before wrapping up the six game series on Thursday, November 15 in Victoria, BC. The 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup will be hosted by the Saskatoon Blades and Western Hockey League running from May 17-26 at the CUC in Saskatoon.
With a highly competitive season expected in all four WHL Divisions, along with all the major events taking place in the WHL this season, fans will have the opportunity to take in these events either live or through one of our many broadcast options. SHAW TV will continue to be the official regional broadcaster of the WHL and will feature 32 regular season games as well as a full series in each round of the 2012 WHL Playoffs. The broadcast schedule will continue to feature key rivals LIVE every Friday night on ‘The WHL on SHAW Friday Night Hockey’ across Western Canada on SHAW TV and Shaw Direct ‘Channel 299’. The WHL and Root Sports Northwest will continue to provide fans in the U.S. Pacific Northwest with televised WHL action providing up to 10 regular season games to viewers. The 2012-13 WHL on Root Sports NW Broadcast schedule will feature all five WHL U.S. based Clubs: Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans. The broadcasts bring WHL action into 3.4 million homes across five U.S. states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Canadian Hockey League broadcast partner Rogers Sportsnet will also feature up to eight nationally televised WHL games on ‘CHL Friday Night Hockey’ plus LIVE coverage of the 2012 SUBWAY® Super Series, 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
As in previous seasons, all 22 Clubs will provide radio broadcasts of their entire home and away schedule throughout the regular season and playoffs. All 792 WHL regular season games and the entire playoff schedule will also be available for viewing on WHL LIVE webcasts with the WHL’s digital media partner NeuLion, in cooperation with the WHL’s radio broadcast partners. WHL LIVE offers an enhanced viewing experience through a large pop-up video console for live and archived games. The enhanced interface will support the latest in adaptive streaming technology, including the ability to detect a viewer’s bandwidth and seamlessly adjust the picture quality to eliminate buffering or intermittent viewing. The service also provides high quality video and lets fans pause and rewind live games.