New CHL All-Star Format Announced

By Jeff Bromley

In keeping up with the changing times of All-Star exhibitions of hockey, the Canadian Hockey League announced that it has changed it’s format in dramatic fashion. In a bold move to increase both interest and exposure of all three leagues under the CHL umbrella organization, President David Branch announced this past week that the tried and true format of conference vs. conference within each league would be changed to envelope an inter-league, conference vs. conference model. The three leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) will still hold All-Star games but the respective leagues will now host a conference from one of the other Major-Junior loops. Held on three consecutive Wednesdays starting January 17, 2001, the action will start with the QMJHL’s LeBel Conference hosting the OHL’s Eastern Conference in Montreal’s Molson Centre, January 24 with the OHL’s Western Conference hosting the WHL’s Eastern Conference in Guelph, Ontario and on January 31 in Kamloops when the Western Conference All-Stars of the WHL host the Dilio Conference of the QMJHL. “The Canadian Hockey League and its member leagues are excited about this new format for the three All-Star games. The format will give fans across Canada the opportunity to see the top stars of the CHL go head to head in the three interlocking games,” stated CHL President David Branch by conference call in joint press conferences held in Kamloops, Guelph and Montreal. Branch further added “this new format is another illustration of the continuing growth of the Canadian Hockey League.”

The Western Hockey League Commissioner, Ron Robinson echoed Branch’s thoughts while adding that the main thrust behind the change will invigorate the old format while adding some new lifeblood and also present renewed interest for the potential audience that will be drawn on television as all three contests will be shown nationwide on CTVSportsNet. “We believe the new interlocking format will generate a great deal of interest not only in the Kamloops area but for our television audience across Canada,” said Robinson. “Given that the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has won the Memorial Cup two of the past three years, we know the QMJHL Dilio Conference will provide a real test for our top players from the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference.”

The format for choosing the General Managers, Coaches and Players has not changed however, as G.M.’s and Coaches from the leading teams in each respective conference after each team’s 29th game (Dec. 10th) will supply the men behind the bench. The WHL players will be selected by nomination process from each team and then voted upon. In the WHL’s Eastern Conference both the Kootenay ICE and Red Deer Rebels have shots at being the number one club by the 10th. In the West the picture is much more cloudy as five teams are still in the hunt.

Quick Hits -The Kootenay ICE announced Thursday that the club had acquired 18-yr-old defenseman Steven Spencer from the Kamloops Blazers. The 6’3″, 218lb Meadow Lake, Sask. native was for future considerations.