It's true, many comparisons can be made on the two leagues. In fact, our rules try to reflect the NHL changes every year to help prepare players for the next level.
There's some big money owners, there's some perennial favorites and cellar dwellers... let's face it, of all the junior leagues around the world, the WHL imitates the NHL the best. And that can only be taken as a compliment.
With that in mind today's blog asks the question "What NHL team best reflects junior clubs in the WHL?" This is strictly for fun, no offense intended of course. Some of these are a little far-fetched but some have some merit. At the sake of making this a marathon post, I'm going to stick to the East Division, and then a few others that jump out at me around the league.
Regina Pats - Montreal Canadiens
The comparison can be made on both franchises rich history, passionate fans and the team a lot around the league love to hate. Either you love 'em or you hate 'em. Take your pick. If I was Regina I would take that as a compliment.
Brandon Wheat Kings - Pittsburgh Penguins
More so, the last couple years is where the similarities lie. The comparison here can be made on the young superstars on each team. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin could be the WHL version of Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie. Brandon is an exciting, offensive team just like the Pens are. It helps the color scheme is similar too.
Moose Jaw Warriors - Philadelphia Flyers
Does this one really need explaining?
Saskatoon Blades - Chicago Blackhawks
The comparison here would be the team's recent history. Both teams have had their struggles but now it appears both are ready to turn the corner and be a contender again. Also, Blades Head Coach and General Manager Lorne Molleken coached the Blackhawks from 1998-2000.
Prince Albert Raiders - New York Islanders
Both dominant teams in the 80's now both having some recent struggles to make the playoffs. Fan support for both has been a bit of an issue lately. No crazy owner in Prince Albert like Charles Wang in Long Island though.
Swift Current Broncos - Edmonton Oilers
I had to rack my brain a little on this one but I think it best describes the Broncos big brother. Both in small markets, both had some highly offensive teams in the 80's and early 90's. Both teams have struggled financially at times over the years but both have seemingly turned the corner in that regard.
Here's a few others from around the league:
Kamloops Blazers - Toronto Maple Leafs
Both teams had their fair share of winning in the early years but it appears the tap has run dry lately. Both teams are seemingly always under the microscope from fans and other WHL teams. Both teams feature some hard-hitting print journalism, and what's old is new in both markets including an Alumni ownership group in Kamloops and the return of Cliff Fletcher as General Manager in TO. Could you also draw a comparison in head coaches? Ron Wilson meet your WHL counterpart Barry Smith.
Vancouver Giants - Detroit Red Wings
The similarities here lie in the win/loss column. The Giants are perennial favorites in the WHL as are the Wings in the NHL. Both teams also usually get a healthy contribution for European players. It seems both teams always seem to draft extremely well.
Lethbridge Hurricanes-Washington Capitals
What jumps out at me are the young explosive forwards on each team. Both teams can skate and have their superstars up front. Both teams will also be a force this season. Hey, and the 'Canes old jersey (now their thirds) is a knock-off of the Washington Capitals.
I could go on but I think I would start to stretch it a little bit. Either way, the Western Hockey League wants to be all that is good about the NHL, and I think they're doing a pretty good job.