The Kelowna Rockets, Kamloops Blazers and 20 other Western Hockey League clubs will play a 68-game regular season schedule beginning in 2018-19 to benefit both the teams and the players. -Image: Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze

WHL to reduce schedule to 68 games next season

Board of governors approved proposal to drop four games per team in 2018-19

Beginning in 2018-19, the Western Hockey League teams will play 68-game regular season schedule.

The league approved the shift from 72 to 68 games at the WHL Board of Governors meeting this week in Calgary.

Playing four fewer games during the regular season is designed to help reduce travel and balance the schedule, while providing more time for players to focus on training, skill development and their academic studies. F

“This has been in the works for a while now, and it has just been a matter of deciding on a time of when to make the move from 72 to 68,” said WHL board chairman and Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton.

“It’s designed to benefit the players. The players will get more time at school, and they’ll have more time for practice and skill development which is what we feel the players need. Most importantly, we need to look after them in the sense that their well-being is our main concern.

“We’ve eliminated four games, two on the road, and we really feel that their academics and their skill development will benefit from that.”

The Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League currently play a 68-game regular season schedule. With the WHL reduction in games, it will result in all three Canadian Hockey League member leagues playing the same number of games.

“By reducing our WHL regular season schedule, I believe this further demonstrates our WHL club’s commitment to providing our players with the best possible environment to develop, both as hockey players and student athletes,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison.

“The WHL takes great pride in being a world leader in player development and education opportunities, and we are fully committed to enhancing our player experience on an ongoing basis.”