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WHL adopts NHL playoff format

The Western Hockey League will roll out a new playoff format next season.

The new format, identical to the one introduced this year by the NHL, was approved during league meetings which wrapped up Wednesday in Vancouver.

“We believe the new format is a hybrid of the WHL’s previous Conference and Divisional formats,” said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison.

“This will allow us to feature our regional rivalries in the playoffs and offer the most fair and competitive path to the WHL Championship.”

The new format will see the top three teams in each division make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed teams in each conference, based on their regular-season record, regardless of division. It is possible for one division in each conference to send five teams to the postseason while others send just three.

In the first round, the division winner with the best record in each conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the lesser record; the wild card team with the better record will play the other division winner.

The teams finishing second and third in each division will meet in the first round within the bracket headed by their respective division winners.

First-round winners within each bracket play one another in the second round to determine the four participants in the conference finals.

Home-ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the team that placed higher in the regular-season standings. In the conference finals and WHL championship series, home-ice advantage goes to the team that had the better regular-season record - regardless of the teams' final standing in their respective divisions.

In addition, any ties in the final regular season standings will be determined as per WHL regulations, and if an East Division club is involved in the WHL championship series, the series will utilize a 2 - 3 - 2 format.

In other WHL news, the Western Hockey League announced Kelowna Rockets owner Bruce Hamilton has been re-elected as Chairman of the Board for another two-year term.

Hamilton, entering his seventh term, is the longest service chairman in league history (1998 to 2004 and 2008 to present).

Patrick LaForge of the Edmonton Oil Kings (Central Division) and Russ Farwell of the Seattle Thunderbirds (U.S. Division) have also been re-elected to the WHL's Executive Committee for two year terms. Ron Toigo of Vancouver Giants (BC Division) and Gord Broda (East Division) will continue to serve as the other members of the WHL Executive Committee.

The WHL has also announced that the 2014-15 pre-season schedule will be released on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, with the 2014-15 regular season schedule to follow on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

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