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Five for Howling Teaches Us about the WHL

Not all that many United States sports fans know about the Western Hockey League.  Never fear, Travis Hair of our Coyotes site Five for Howling took care of that.  He did an outstanding detailed interview with the WHL's manager of player development and recruitment.  It teaches American fans how many younger players take a route to the NHL.

Travis Hair: Here in the United States we have a pretty clear idea of how the progression for kids to get into pro sports works for baseball, basketball and football in that they play little league, go to high school, usually go to college and then get drafted from there. Can you explain how the process is different for hockey when kids go through juniors?

Tyler Boldt: Sure, for us in the Western Hockey League we're obviously the Western Provinces and then everything west of Minnesota down to Texas. The progression basically works the same in both countries where players will play in their minor hockey leagues, whether that's midgets or bantams. From there we have the WHL bantam draft, which takes place when the players are 15 years old. It works the same way as the NHL draft, obviously not the same media attention, but the same round by round procedure where all the 15 year old players that are wanted are picked team by team. You can start playing in the league when you're 16, and play right through until you're 20, so 5 years. Then if you're a blue chip prospect you get picked by an NHL team when you're 17 or 18 and sign shortly thereafter.  Then start playing in the NHL or go through the minor pro leagues like the AHL.