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November 24, 2008

Junior Hockey in Canada: The QMJHL, 2008-09 Season.

Filed under: Canada,Hockey — admin @ 6:39 am

Please note: I have made a more recent map-and-post of the QMJHL (May 2016), here:
Ligue de Hockey Junior Majeur du Québec (LHJMQ) [English: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)]: location-map with: 2015-16 attendance data, QMJHL titles & CHL/Memorial Cup titles listed/+ illustrations for the 2 QMJHL teams with the best attendance in 2015-16 (the Quebec Remparts & the Halifax Mooseheads), and the 2 QMJHL teams with the best-percent-capacity figures in 2015-16 (the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies & the Val-d’Or Foreurs).
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The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was formed in 1969,  from a merger of two junior leagues in the province of Quebec.  In the French it is called la Ligue de Hockey Junior Majeur du Quebec,  and its abbreviation in the French is LHJMQ. 

The QMJHL is one of three junior hockey leagues in Canada.  The other two are the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.   These three leagues are governed by the umbrella organization called the Canadian Hockey League.  All three leagues are for players aged 16 to 20 years old,  after which they are eligible for the National Hockey League Draft. 

[Note: I made maps of both the OHL and the WHL earlier this year:  to see them,  click on "Canada" in the Categories list]. 

In the early days of the QMJHL,  most of the teams were within a few hours drive of Montreal.  Shawingun is the sole team that has remained in the same city,  uninterrupted.  Starting in 1994,  the ”Q” began to expand into the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick,  Nova Scotia,  Newfoundland,  and Prince Edward Island.  This was to fill the void left when the American Hockey League (the largest minor-league hockey entity) pulled its teams out of cities in the Maritimes.  In 2003,  the team from Sherbrooke,  Quebec moved across the border to Lewiston, Maine,  USA.  That club became the Lewiston MAINEiacs;  they won the league title,  called the President’s Cup,  in 2007.  Last season,  the championship was won by the Gatineau Olympique (Gatineau is just across the Ottawa River from the Canadian national capital of Ottawa).

The QMJHL is known for it’s swift,  offense-oriented style of play;  it has traditionally produced profficient skatrs and goal scorers,  as well as stand-out goalkeepers (the NHL is chock full of French-Canadian goalies).  QMJHL alumni who have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame include Guy Lafluer,  Pat Lafontaine,  Mario Lemieux,  and Patrick Roy.

Here is a list of the 10 highest drawing junior hockey teams in North America [it has been updated] {Click here}.  The Qubec Remparts drew the most in 2007-08,  averaging 10,981;  the other team from the “Q” in the top 10 then was the Halifax Mooseheads, whose average gate was 7,589.  As a whole,  the QMJHL averaged 3,612 per game in 2007-08.

As with my other two Canadian junior hockey league maps,  this map is not an attendance map per se,  as it shows all the team crests at an equivalent size.  Attendances are listed in the chart on the left hand side,  though,  along with the populations of each team’s home metropolitan area.  In some cases,  of course,  there is no metro area…the team plays literally in a small town.  In fact,  the reigning champions,  the Rouyn-Naranda Huskies,  hail from a mining town of about only 40,000 inhabitants.  Two teams draw around 10% of their home town’s population: the Rimouski Oceanic,  and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles,  of Sydney,  Cape Breton,  Nova Scotia.  On the other hand,  as with the OHL and the WHL,  there are QMJHL teams that play in the metro area of cities which have franchises in the world’s biggest hockey league,  the NHL.  Gatineau must “compete” with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators;  as must the new team called the Montreal Junior Hockey Club with the storied Montreal Canadiens (the NHL team with the most titles,  and the highest avearge attendance).  But fans in these cities who go to junior hockey games instead of NHL games do so for different reasons.  First of all,  it is way cheaper.  Secondly,  they can usually get better seats.  And perhaps most of all,  they can see the stars of tommorrow playing for a hockey club the fans can feel more a part of.

QMJHL site, in English  {Click here}.

QMJHL standings {click here}.

Wikipedia’s page on the QMJHL  {Click here}.

Thanks to this site,  for the attendance figures… http://www.mib.org/~lennier/hockey/leagueatt.cgi.

   

February 5, 2008

Junior Hockey in Canada: The Western Hockey League, 2007-08 season.

Filed under: Canada,Canada>WHL,Hockey — admin @ 5:38 pm

Please note: I have made a more recent map-and-post of the WHL (April 2016), here:
Western Hockey League (WHL): location-map with: 2015-16 attendance data, WHL titles & CHL/Memorial Cup titles listed/+ illustrations for the 4 WHL teams with the best attendance in 2015-16 (Calgary Hitmen, Portland Winterhawks, Edmonton Oil Kings, Spokane Chiefs), and the 3 WHL teams with the best-percent-capacity figures in 2015-16 (Kelowna Rockets, Red Deer Rebels, Prince Albert Raiders).
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The Western Hockey League, or WHL, is one of 3 junior hockey leagues based in Canada.   The other 2 leagues are the Ontario Hockey League (OHL);  and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMHJL).  [Note: I made a map similar to this one for the OHL, which I posted on January 13th.  To see the OHL map, go to Categories, under "Hockey,"  and scroll down to bottom of page.]

These 3 leagues are for players aged 15 to 20, after which they are eligible for the National Hockey League Draft.  All three of the leagues feature teams from the USA; the WHL has a U.S. Division within it’s league format.  The other 3 divisions loosely follow the three far western Canadian Provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan).

The WHL is currently averaging a very healthy 4,500 per game.  This is rather impressive, when one considers that it is a junior hockey league.  The biggest minor-league hockey league, the AHL, is only averaging 500 more per game, this season (4,900).

The WHL was formed in 1966, out of the desire to unify the four western Canadian provinces’ junior leagues, in order to better compete with the junior leagues in Ontario and Quebec.  Five Sakatchewan teams, the Regina Pats, the Saskatoon Blades, the Estevan Bruins, the Moose Jaw Canucks, and the Weyburn Red Wings, plus the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Calgary Buffaloes were the founding members.  Within 5 years, the WHL had reached ascendancy in the west, and when the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association reorganized, in 1971, the WHL became one of the 3 leagues in the top tier of Canadian junior hockey.

There have been 3 dynasties in the WHL.  The first was the New Westminster Bruins, who were from the Vancouver area.  They started out in Saskatchewan, as the Estevan Bruins (in the southeast of the province, 15 miles from the US border at North Dakota).  They moved west to metro Vancouver, in 1971.  They won 4 consecutive Titles in the 1970′s, as well as two Memorial Cups (which is the all-Canada junior crown).  They moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, in 1981, and went on to become the second WHL dynasty (see below).

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The third WHL dynasty has been the central British Columbian team the Kelowna Rockets.  They have won 2 WHL titles and a Memorial Cup since 2002.  They also draw very well for a small city: around 6,100 for the past 3 seasons.  

The Vancouver Giants are the reigning WHL champions.  They are also currently the best draw, averaging an impressive 8,700 last season.  They lead the turnstile count again this season (at 8,300) , followed by the Calgary Hitmen (at 8,100).   Both these teams must compete with an NHL franchise in their cities.  This trend, of minor league teams successfully establishing a niche in big-league cities, began in the mid 1990′s, with the formation of the Hitmen.  That team reached a peak attendance of 10,000, in 2005.

On the other end of the population spectrum, teams like the Everett Silvertips (30 miles north of Seattle, Washington, USA), and the Red Deer (Alberta) Rebels are thriving.  They both drew over 6,000 last season, and are both playing in cities with populations under 95,000.  And two teams pull in around 10% of their hometown population: the Brandon (Manitoba) Wheat Kings and the Swift Current (Saskatchewan) Broncos.  Brandon is a city of 48,000: the Wheat Kings are drawing 4,100; Swift Current is a town of just 15,000; the Broncos pull in 1,900 per game. 

Below is a little map I put together that shows some old logos from the WHL.
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The logo at the upper right is the Flin Flon (Manitoba) Bombers.  This was a legendary team that produced loads of NHL talent, like Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke {see this, here).  That franchise moved, and then became defunct, but another team has inherited the name, and plays in the Sakatchewan Junior Hockey League.  The rams-head logo in Montana is the crest of the Billings Bighorns, also defunct.  The Victoria Cougars are now up in northern B.C., as the Prince George Cougars.  The Kelowna Wings moved to Spokane, and became the Chiefs.   All the rest of the logos on this map are of WHL teams still in their same locations. 

The Regina Pats emblem has remained unchanged.  They have been arouind for 90 years, and are the oldest major junior hockey club in the world.    **{see the Regina Pats website, here.}  The team was named after the Princess Patricia of Connaught, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria; and they were associated with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.  The Regina Pats still wear that regiment’s crest as a shoulder patch {see the crest, here}.

The WHL is traditionally known a league that produces large, hard-hitting defensemen, and fore-checking power forwards.  It is often referred to as “the Dub,” after the first syllable in the WHL.

WHL website: (http://www.whl.ca/hm/).  

Click here, for the Wikipedia entry on the WHL.

January 13, 2008

Junior Hockey in Canada: The Ontario Hockey League, 2007-08 season.

Filed under: Canada,Canada>OHL,Hockey — admin @ 7:25 am

Please note: I have made a more recent map-and-post of the OHL (April 2016), here:
Ontario Hockey League (OHL): location-map with: 2015-16 attendance data, OHL titles & CHL/Memorial Cup titles listed/+ illustrations for the 6 OHL teams with the best-percent-capacity figures in 2015-16 (Oshawa Generals, London Knights, Kitchener Rangers, Barrie Colts, Guelph Storm, Niagara IceDogs).
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I have family in Canada.  Several relations there have wondered why I haven’t focused on Canadian Hockey, here on this site.  This should keep them happy, for a while.

The Ontario Hockey League, or OHL, is one of 3 junior hockey leagues based in Canada.  The 3 leagues constitute the Canadian Hockey League.  The other two are the WHL (the Western Hockey League), and the QMJHL (the Qubec Major Junior Hockey League).  All three leagues are for players aged 15 to 20.  All three leagues have a few teams from the United States in them.  The OHL has 3 American clubs: 2 from Michigan (which is a hotbed for minor-league hockey), and 1 from Pennsylvania.  [The QMJHL has just one US team, from Maine; the WHL has 5 US teams, all from the Pacific Northwest.]   {Find out more about the CHL, here.}

When I decided to do a map of the OHL, I figured most teams would average around 2 or 3,000 per game.  Actually, the median is more like 3,500.   This is pretty respectable, when you consider that this is basically a developmental league for teenagers.  And there are some pretty solid draws in this league.  The London Knights are the attendance leaders, at 9,000, this season.  But they hadn’t translated their ability to draw crowds into any sort of success on ice, until two years ago, when they finally won an OHL Title.  Ottawa has an NHL franchise, yet still shows solid support for it’s junior club, the Ottawa 67′s: they are getting 7,700 per game this season.  The Kitchener Rangers are the other “big” club in this league: their average gate this season is 5,900.

The most successful clubs on the ice, historically, are two clubs northeast of Toronto.  The Oshawa Generals got their name from their first sponsor, General Motors.  They have won 12 OHL Titles, but they haven’t won one since 1997.  The Peterborough Petes have won 9 OHL Titles, their last in 2006.  Oshawa is drawing decent crowds (4,700); the Petes less so (2,900).  But Peterborough is not a big city, with a population of around 75,000.  Speaking of small towns, check out Owen Sound.  Nestled at the foot of the Bruce Peninsula, on the shore of the beautiful Georgian Bay, this hamlet of 22,000 really supports it’s team…2,400 per game, or over 10% of the town’s occupants.  I guess they’re like the Green Bay Packers of junior hockey.  They used to be called the Platers, after an electro-plating company that owned them.  Why the heck did they change their name ?  The Owen Sound Platers is like the coolest name I’ve heard in ages.

Speaking of interesting names, try these on for size.  [All these are defunct teams, of course.]   The Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters (after a local hat company);  the St. Catherines Teepees (in the days before political correctness);  the Hamilton Fincups (an amalgamation of the two family names of the owners);  the Port Colborne Recreationalists;  and my favorite, the Stratford Midgets, which sounds like a band of Shakespearian dwarves.

One more thing about names.  The Plymouth Whalers actually do have a connection to the old Hartford Whalers, of WHA, and NHL (circa 1980′s and 90′s) fame.  They are owned by the same group that owns the Carolina Hurricanes (whom the Hartford Whalers morphed into).  And again with the small-town theme: Plymouth is 25 miles west of Detroit, with a population of around 28,000.  The Plymouth Whalers are the reigning champions of the OHL. 

Special thanks to the Niagara Ice Dogs Fans Forum, and “Strohs,” a puck-head accountant with a good deal of time on his hands.  He did the numbers-crunching; I stumbled onto it.

October 26, 2007

Hockey of the North Atlantic, circa 1994.

Filed under: Hand Drawn Maps,Hockey — admin @ 10:26 pm

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This is a map from my early days of sports maps, around 13 years ago.  As you can see, I was way more into the unbridled use of color and form, and less into accuracy.  I can remember, halfway into the map, deciding to put in minor-league hockey clubs, only to realize (pre-internet) that I had little chance of finding the logos for most of these small clubs.  So I improvised:  Ontario Hockey League trading cards I had helped; and for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams, I just used their names alone.  This map has teams from the National Hockey League; the American Hockey League; the aforementioned OHL and QMJHL; and the East Coast Hockey League.  Minor league affiliations of AHL clubs are noted by small logos of their parent NHL clubs.  The player in the map’s legend is New York Ranger goalie Mike Richter, in his 1994 All-Star team uniform. 

August 19, 2007

NHL, established 1917

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The National Hockey Association was the precursor to the NHL.  The NHA was formed in 1910.  In early 1917, one of the teams in the league had to withdraw: The Toronto 228th Battalion.  As strange as it must seem, a Canadian Army Regiment had a team in a pro hockey league.   When the 228th Battalion was called up to serve in Europe (in  World War I), the league reformed as the NHL, without the 228th Batallion, and without the Toronto Blueshirts, whose owner was a disruptive force.

The NHL operated with just 3 teams its first two seasons: the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators, and the Toronto Arenas. 

The Montreal Wanderers were forced to fold after their arena burnt down in early 1918.  The Quebec Bulldogs were forced to suspend operations for two seasons.  Quebec re-entered the league in 1919, but moved to Hamilton, Ontario in 1920. 

The Toronto club changed its name to the St. Patricks in 1919, and to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Feb. 1927. 

In 1924, two new clubs joined: the Montreal Maroons and the Boston Bruins.  The Maroons replaced the Wanderers as the English-speaking fans’ team in Montreal.  (The Canadiens being the French-speaking fans’ team.)  The Boston club was the first American team in the NHL.

During the playoffs in the 1924-1925 season, Hamilton players went on strike for non-payment of post-season wages.  The league disbanded the team, and the next season sent the franchise to New York, as the Americans.  Also that season, the Pittsburgh Pirates were formed.

In 1926, the New York Rangers were formed.  Also, two teams from the defunct Western Hockey League were re-born as NHL teams…the Victoria (British Columbia) Cougars became the Detroit Cougars (now known as the Red Wings), and the Portland Rosebuds became the Chicago Black Hawks.  However, the NHL does not recognize these two moves as franchise shifts, even though most players from each WHL team ended up on the two new NHL teams.  The NHL now had 10 teams.

However, the league’s progress was impeded by the Great Depression.  The first casualty was the Pittsburgh franchise, which moved to Philadelphia in 1930, but folded in 1931.  Ottawa suspended operations for the 1931-1932 season, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1934, only to fold in 1935.  In 1938, the Maroons folded.  In 1942, the NY Americans folded.

To see a graphic representation of the franchise shifts from 1917-1942, scroll up to the box on the top, left, and CLICK.

The period from 1942 to 1967 saw no franchise shifts, with 6 stable teams in the NHL: the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Chicago Blackhawks.  These teams are known, somewhat misleadingly, as “The Original Six.”  Misleading because 4 of the 6 were not original.

In the fall of 1967, the NHL entered it’s Modern Era, as it expanded from 6 to 12 teams.  To see the 12 teams, scroll to the box on the top, center, and CLICK.

In it’s early days (1917-1926), the winner of the NHL did not automatically win the Stanley Cup.  

Originally (1893-1915),  the Stanley Cup was operated on a challenge basis, whereby a team, approved by the Stanley Cup Board of Trustees, would challenge the Cup-holder to a competition.  It was similar to how pro boxing title matches are organized.

In 1915, an agreement between the NHA and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association was made: their respective champions would meet to play for the Stanley Cup. This format (best in East vs. best in West)  carried on when the NHL was formed in 1917, and when another  league was formed in western Canada.   By 1926, both these western leagues had folded, and the Stanley Cup became the sole property of the NHL.

There were three non-NHL teams during this era to win the Stanley Cup – the Vancouver Millionaires (1915), the Seattle Metropolitans (1917), and the Victoria Cougars (1925).

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