The Western Hockey League (WHL) is a major junior ice hockey league based in Western Canada and the Northwestern United States.
The WHL is one of three leagues that constitute the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) as the highest level of junior hockey in Canada.
The teams play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with the winner moving on to play for the Memorial Cup, Canada's national junior championship.
WHL teams have won the Memorial Cup 19 times since the league became eligible to compete for the trophy.
The league was founded in 1966 as the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL), with seven western Canadian teams in Saskatchewan and Alberta. From 1967, the league was renamed the Western Canadian Hockey League (WCHL) before settling on the current WHL starting in 1978.
The league was the brainchild of Bill Hunter, who intended to build a western league capable of competing with the top leagues in Ontario and Quebec.
Originally considered an "outlaw league" by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, the WHL was sanctioned as the top junior league in Western Canada when junior hockey was reorganized in 1970.
Today, the WHL comprises 22 teams and is divided into two conferences of two divisions. The Eastern Conference comprises 12 teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia while the Western Conference comprises ten teams from British Columbia and the US states of Washington & Oregon.