The Western International Hockey League operated for 42 Seasons. Members included the Cranbrook Royals, Kimberley Dynamiters, Rossland Warriors, Trail Smoke Eaters, Spokane Jets, Calgary Stampeders, Los Angeles Ramblers, Portland Buckeroos, and Fernie Elk Valley at one time or another.
They had approximately 3,500 players in their 40 plus seasons. Only 10 WIHL players ever it to National Hockey League. Six were from this area. They were Frank Spring Jr. (4 NHL teams ), Bernie Lukowich (Pittsburgh Penguins), Bob Murdoch (California Golden Seals, St Louis Blues, and Cleveland Barons), Barry Cummins, Kimberley Dynamiters (Oakland Golden Seals) and Ron “ Spike” Huston ( California Golden Seals).
Norm Johnson Spokane Jets (61 NHL games), Seth Martin Trail Smoke Eaters (Goaltender St Louis Blues) Mike Laughton Nelson Maple Leafs (184 NHL games Oakland Golden Seals) and Doug Buhr, my dear old roommate in Van, who played for Trail Smoke Eaters, and had a small cup of coffee with the Kansas City Scouts NHL in 1975. Out of these 10 Players , Bob Murdoch of Cranbrook scored 45 goals in 2 NHL Seasons for Oakland and Cleveland Barons, the only Cranbrook player to do that — and if you are counting, 59 goals in 3 campaigns.
Twin brothersTed and Bob McAneeley were born in Cranbrook. Teddy played 3 seasons in the NHL for California Golden Seals, and then Playing Coach for the Spokane Flyers of the WIHL. Teddy then went to Coach in Japan. Twin brother Bob played 3 seasons in the World Hockey Association for the Edmonton Oilers, beginning in College with the UBC Thunderbirds. Bob did not play in the NHL , so that makes just 10 Players who skated in the WIHL and made it up to the NHL at some point in their hockey careers.
Out of 3500 Plus WIHL players who suited up in 42 Seasons, just those 10 made it to “The Show” and 6 are from here. Which proves how very difficult a journey it can be. To put this into mathematical perspective, just one fifth of one percent of WIHL players actually made it to the NHL, an arduous path to be sure.
Assistant Coach Ryan Huska from Cranbrook played one game in the NHL (none in the WIHL) Although he has no WIHL ties, Tom Renney of Cranbrook has been an NHL Head Coach with Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers. Tom currently serves as President and CEO of Hockey Canada.
Way back in the day the Western International Hockey League was our own little NHL.
As Red Kelly of the Toronto Maple Leafs once said “It is an honor to play just one game in the National Hockey League”.
Frank Spring Jr., Bob Murdoch, Ron Huston, Bernie Lukowich, Barry Cummins, and Ted McAneeley did a whole lot better than that.