Have you ever wondered where players in the NHL were before they made it big? The majority of them have probably worked their way up from the CHL (Canadian hockey league). The CHL consists of young men ranging in ages 16 to 20. There are three different leagues in the CHL, the WHL (Western Hockey League), OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and QMJHL (Quebec major junior hockey league).
I personally am biased towards the WHL, but I also enjoy an OHL game every now and then. A lot of people don’t see these games as games worth watching, but I can tell you right now they are the exact opposite. You get games in the WHL that are fast paced, hard hitting and high scoring. The young men on these teams play with the same intensity as the guys in the NHL do. You get The Battle of Alberta on a Junior level, as well as the rivalry between the Spokane Chiefs and Tri City Americans. If you like the physical aspect of the game the WHL is the league for you.
Some WHL alumni include Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic of the Bruins, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks and Cam Ward of the Hurricanes.
In the OHL games are often fast paced games, sometimes higher in scoring. The OHL produces most of today’s NHL stars, some OHL alumni are Bryan Bickell, Daniel Carcillo and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Drew Doughty of the LA Kings.
If you have CHL team in your hometown, I highly recommend you check out a game, most teams have ticket deals or packages for multiple games and tickets are so inexpensive it’s almost a sin. If you can’t afford NHL tickets, CHL tickets can give you the exact same experience if not more. Who knows you may come out with a new favourite team. Teams sometimes do autograph signings or something along those lines, you can meet players, shake their hands, give them words of encouragement and one day when they are in the NHL you can proudly say “I met him when he played for…”
To me that is one of the most exciting things about the CHL, the ability to discover talent before anyone else does, to see these guys develop into future NHL stars, to see them grow up on and off the ice. Many CHL clubs have huge community involvement and wouldn’t be anywhere without it. So when you get the chance grab a couple of friends and check out a game you won’t regret it.