Thursday, 23 September 2010

WHL Brass Speaks to Media

The start of the 45th Western Hockey League regular season is just one day away.

WHL brass talked to the media Wednesday via conference call, with Commissioner Ron Robison saying there are a number of highlights for the upcoming season including the league's first outdoor games and the first regular season game in the Yukon.

The outdoor games are January 15 in Spokane and February 21 in Calgary while Kamloops and Vancouver will play in Whitehorse on February 12.

Robison also discussed what the league is doing to curb dangerous hits.

"You can play the game with an intense manner, but you also have to understand that there's a responsibility as a player and a respect factor that must be there," says Robison, "We work very hard to make sure that players are well aware of those situations, and if there are any problems at all, we certainly deal directly with the club to correct that and be proactive throughout the course of the season."

Robison also used the venue to re-iterate how far the league has come with its education policy.

"Now, with full ride opportunities in Western Canada through our partnership with Canada West Universities, players now graduating from our league not only benefit from the scholarship the Western Hockey League offers (tuition, books and fees), but those funds are now matched by Canada West Universities," says Robison, "Players are getting better education opportunities than ever before."

One of the questions posed during the Conference Call was about the WHL possibly moving to a system where three points are awarded for each regular season game.

The IIHF uses a system at World Championships, including the World Juniors, where three points are awarded for a regulation victory, two points for an overtime (or shootout) victory and one point for an overtime (or shootout) loss.

"We haven't discussed that at the league level for a number of years now," said WHL vice-president Richard Doerksen, "It was probably five or six years ago when we took a lot of time to see what changes could be made to our game, similar to what the NHL was doing, and we contemplated a number of different things. Certainly, at this point, we haven't discussed that any further."

The NHL altered its tie-breaker system slightly this year to include regulation victories as its tie-breaker for teams even in the standings but hat isn't something that will be implemented in the WHL for this season.

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