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WHL  

Status quo for WHL

For the second year in a row, don't expect any rule changes in the Western Hockey League.

In fact, the biggest news to come out of the league's annual general meetings is a move by the Swift Current Broncos from the Eastern Division to the Central Division.

The announcement was made following the conclusion of the meetings at the Delta Grand Hotel in Kelowna.

"They have been very good about it. They have a natural rivalry with Medicine Hat, and they'll continue to have some games with their traditional Saskatchewan rivals," said commissioner Ron Robison during a media availability Wednesday.

"That's necessary to accommodate Winnipeg moving into the east."

The former Kootenay Ice franchise relocated to Winnipeg after this past season creating an imbalance between the East and Central divisions.

Robison said nothing will change in terms of rules, saying the game is in a good place right now.

"That's not to say we don't continue to challenge ourselves on everything that's developing, whether it's at our level or the NHL level," he said.

"We're partners with the NHL and we'll follow any new developments up there."

Robison touched on a number of topics concerning the Western Hockey League.

Here are just a few of the items broached by the commissioner.

Move to a 68-game schedule - It was a great move I think. When you look at the number of changes we've made to improve the player experience, that would be a big one. We play in a league that requires a lot of travel. We need more time for schooling, more time for recovery, more practice time. It's led to more of a compact schedule on weekends, about 70 per cent of our games are on weekends.

Raiders quick turnaround before Memorial Cup - Prince Albert didn't really recover after a long league final. Credit to Vancouver for pushing them to seven games. The advantage next year is both teams of lour will be playing in our own region. We charter for the championship series, and try to give the two teams the best conditions. Both teams will be ready to go opening night.

Expansion - We have no plans for expansion. If you look at the league, 22 teams is probably a few teams too many. The 20-team level is where we were quite satisfied, but because of the opportunity to move into markets like Edmonton, Victoria and now Winnipeg, we really have the ideal footprint in Western Canada. We occupy not only all the large markets in Western Canada, but all the most influential secondary markets in Western Canada well as the United States.

Attracting fans - We continually focus on, not only from the hockey development standpoint, but fan experience and how we can use that to improve ticket sales. It's a challenge for every league from the top spots leagues to the amateur leagues like ours. We've done some things and made some changes this year. He have some music over play, we are prompting a bit during the game, we are trying to improve the entertainment level of the game. The hockey itself is outstanding, the quality of the game is outstanding. We think there needs to be a little more added to the entertainment package to make it more appealing to the fans.

 

 



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