The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is one of the three major junior ice hockey leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League. The league is for players ages 16 to 21 years old.
The league was formed in 1933 with the partition of Junior A and B.
In 1970, the OHA Junior A League was one of five Junior A leagues operating in Ontario. The OHA was promoted to Tier I Junior A for the 1970-71 season and took up the name Ontario Major Junior Hockey League.
In 1980, the league walked away from Ontario Hockey Association governance with the creation of the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League and its direct affiliation with Hockey Canada.
From 1974 until 1978 (as the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League), Clarence "Tubby" Schmalz was the league's commissioner. Then, for one season (1978–79), former IHL commissioner Bill Beagan served as commissioner of the OMJHL.
Beginning with the 1979-80 season, David Branch has been the Commissioner of the OHL (which became the league's official name prior to the 1981-82 season). He was appointed on August 11, 1979 and he assumed the commissioner's role on September 17, 1979.
Since 1980, the league has grown rapidly into a high-profile marketable product with many games broadcast on television and radio.
There are currently 20 teams in the OHL: 17 are based in the Canadian province of Ontario, two teams in the American state of Michigan and one team in the American state of Pennsylvania.
Leagues for ice hockey in Ontario were first organized in 1890 by the newly created Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). In 1892, the OHA recognized junior hockey, referring to skill rather than age.
In 1896 the OHA moved to the modern age-limited junior hockey concept, distinct from senior and intermediate divisions.
Since then, the evolution to the Ontario Hockey League has developed through four distinct eras of junior-aged non-professional hockey in Ontario.
In 1933, the junior division was divided into two levels, Junior A and Junior B.
In 1970, the Junior A level was divided into two levels, Tier I (or Major Junior A) and Tier II (or Minor Junior A).
In 1974, the Tier I/Major Junior A group separated from the OHA and became the independent "Ontario Major Junior Hockey League" (or the OMJHL). In 1980, the OMJHL became the Ontario Hockey League.
The 20 OHL clubs play a 68-game unbalanced schedule, which starts in the third full week of September, running until the third week of March.
Ninety percent (90%) of OHL games are scheduled between Thursday and Sunday to minimize the number of school days missed for its players.
Approximately 20% of players on active rosters in the National Hockey League have come from the OHL and about 54% of NHL players are alumni of the Canadian Hockey League.
The J. Ross Robertson Cup is awarded annually to the winner of the Championship Series. The Cup is named for John Ross Robertson (who was president of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1901 to 1905).
The OHL playoffs consist of the top 16 teams in the league, 8 from each conference. The teams play a best-of-seven game series and the winner of each series advances to the next round. The final two teams eventually compete for the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
The OHL champion then competes with the winners of the Western Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the host of the tournament to play for the Memorial Cup, which is awarded to the junior hockey champions of Canada.
The host team of the tournament is alternated between the three leagues every season. The most recent OHL team to win the Memorial Cup was the London Knights in 2016.
- 2016: London Knights
- 2015: Oshawa Generals
- 2010: Windsor Spitfires
- 2009: Windsor Spitfires
- 2005: London Knights
- 2003: Kitchener Rangers
- 1999: Ottawa 67's
- 1993: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
- 1990: Oshawa Generals
- 1986: Guelph Platers
- 1984: Ottawa 67's
- 1982: Kitchener Rangers
- 1979: Peterborough Petes
- 1976: Hamilton Fincups
- 1975: Toronto Marlboros
- 1973: Toronto Marlboros
The OHL's predecessor, the OHA, had a midget and juvenile draft dating back to the 1950s until voted out in 1962.
In 1966, it was resumed, though not publicized.
Starting in the 70s, the draft went through several changes. Originally the draft was for 17-year-old midgets not already associated with teams through their sponsored youth programs.
In 1971, the league first allowed "underage" midgets to be picked in the first three rounds.
In 1972, disagreements about the Toronto team's rights to its "Marlie" players (and Greg Neeld) and claims to American player Mark Howe led to a revised system.
In 1973, each team was permitted to protect 8 midget area players (Toronto was allowed to protect 10 players from its midget sponsored teams).
In 1975, the league phased out the area protections, and the 1976 OHA midget draft was the first in which all midget players were eligible.
In 1999, the league changed the draft to a bantam age (15 and 16 year old). It is a selection of players who are residents of the province of Ontario, the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, and other designated U.S. states east of the Mississippi River.
Prior to 2001, the OHL held the Priority Selection in a public forum, such as an arena. Drafts were attended by many players and family members.
In 2001, the OHL decided to hold the "draft" via the Internet, greatly reducing the costs the league and its member teams incurred in hosting a public draft. This move reduced the stress and pressure that prospective players faced with a large crowd present.
- J. Ross Robertson Cup - OHL Playoffs Champion
- Bobby Orr Trophy - Eastern Conference Playoffs Champion
- Wayne Gretzky Trophy - Western Conference Playoffs Champion
- Hamilton Spectator Trophy - Regular Season Champion
- Leyden Trophy - East Division Regular Season Champion
- Emms Trophy - Central Division Regular Season Champion
- Holody Trophy - Midwest Division Regular Season Champion
- Bumbacco Trophy - West Division Regular Season Champion
- Matt Leyden Trophy - OHL Coach of the Year
- OHL Executive of the Year
- Award - Lifetime Distinguished Service
- Red Tilson Trophy - Most Outstanding Player
- Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy - Scoring Champion
- Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy - Top Scoring Right Winger
- Max Kaminsky Trophy - Most Outstanding Defencemen
- OHL Goaltender of the Year- Goaltender of the Year
- Jack Ferguson Award - First Overall Priority Selection-
- Dave Pinkney Trophy - Lowest Team Goals Against
- Emms Family Award - Rookie of the Year
- F.W. "Dinty" Moore Trophy - Best Rookie GAA
- Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy - Humanitarian of the Year
- William Hanley Trophy - Most Sportsmanlike Player
- Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy - Overage Player of the Year-
- Bobby Smith Trophy - Scholastic Player of the Year
- Roger Neilson Memorial Award - Top Academic College/University Player
- Ivan Tennant Memorial Award - Top Academic High School Player
- Wayne Gretzky 99 Award - Playoffs Most Valuable Player
- Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy - Team captain that best exemplifies character and commitment
- Tim Adams Memorial Trophy - OHL Cup Most Valuable player