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Timeline of WHL history

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This is a timeline of events throughout the 40 year history of the Western Hockey League



  • 1970: Regina Pats return, and play in the Eastern Division; Medicine Hat Tigers are granted a franchise, and play in the Western Division.
  • 1971: Estevan Bruins move to New Westminster, and play in the Western Division. Victoria Cougars, and Vancouver Nats granted franchises, both play in the Western Division. Swift Current and Saskatoon move to the Eastern Division.
  • 1973: Vancouver Nats move to Kamloops and become the Kamloops Chiefs; Winnipeg Jets become Winnipeg Clubs.
  • 1974: Swift Current Broncos move to Lethbridge
  • 1976: Edmonton Oil Kings move to Portland and become the Portland Winter Hawks. Winnipeg Clubs become Winnipeg Monarchs.
  • 1976: League splits into three divisions: East (Brandon, Saskatoon, Flin Flon, Regina); Central (Medicine Hat, Winnipeg, Lethbridge, Calgary); West (New Westminster, Kamloops, Portland, Victoria).
  • 1977: Calgary Centennials move to Billings to become the Billings Bighorns. Winnipeg Monarchs move to Calgary and become the Calgary Wranglers. Kamloops Chiefs fold. Seattle Breakers granted a franchise and play in the Western Division.
  • 1978: The WCHL becomes the Western Hockey League. Flin Flon Bombers move to Edmonton to become the second incarnation of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
  • 1979: Edmonton Oil Kings move to Great Falls to become the Great Falls Americans; They would fold on December 16.
  • 1979: The WHL shrinks back into two divisions: West (Portland, Victoria, Seattle, New Westminster) and East (Regina, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Billings, Brandon, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Great Falls)



  • 1991: Tacoma Rockets granted a franchise and play in the Western Division.
  • 1992: Red Deer Rebels granted a franchise and play in the Eastern Division.
  • 1994: Victoria Cougars move to Prince George and become the Prince George Cougars.
  • 1995: Calgary Hitmen are granted a franchise. Tacoma Rockets move to Kelowna and become the Kelowna Rockets.
  • 1995: WHL divides into three divisions: West (Spokane, Tri-Cities, Kelowna, Seattle, Kamloops, Portland, Prince George), Central (Swift Current, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Calgary), and East (Brandon, Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw).
  • 1996: Edmonton Ice are granted a franchise, and play in the central division. Swift Current moves to the east division.
  • 1998: Edmonton Ice move to Cranbrook and become the Kootenay Ice.


  • 2001: Vancouver Giants granted a franchise.
  • 2001: WHL divides into two conferences of two divisions each: Eastern Conference: East Division (Brandon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Prince Albert); Central Division (Red Deer, Swift Current, Lethbridge, Calgary, Medicine Hat); Western Conference: British Columbia Division (Kamloops, Kootenay, Prince George, Kelowna, Vancouver); United States Division (Portland, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Seattle).
  • 2003: Everett Silvertips are granted a franchise and play in the United States division.
  • 2005: The Tri-City Americans' plan to move to Chilliwack is voted down by the league Board of Governors; however, three weeks after the initial vote, the league decides to grant Chilliwack an expansion team named the Chilliwack Bruins to be ready to play in the 2006–07 WHL season. The Tri-City Americans would stay put under a new ownership group led by former Tri-City Americans and current National Hockey League players Stu Barnes and Olaf Kolzig.
  • 2006: Edmonton granted a conditional franchise that began play in 2007–08. The team, named the Edmonton Oil Kings, is owned by the Edmonton Investors Group, then owner of the Edmonton Oilers.

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