New West Coast Hockey Junior League Forming in 2023-24

Junior hockey leagues map
Here is a map showing current junior and college teams in USA and Canada. 

This map should illustrate the obvious need why a new high level junior hockey league is needed on the West Coast.  Upcoming USHL, WHL and NHL drafts will be loaded with kids who are born and raised in Southern California, Arizona and the West Coast.  It is about time that these kids have a place to play hockey and also grow up at home with their parents without going to an East Coast prep school.

West Coast Hockey Sports and Entertainment announced the launch of an elite junior hockey league focused on the western United States. The soon-to-be-named league plans to start play in 2023-24.

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Because a junior player's career in the NHL is difficult to attain, there will be a focus on preparing the kids for college: The new league, like the USHL, will be structured in such a way that its players will be able to keep their NCAA eligibility.

While the USHL will be a clear competitor for talent, Robert does not see the top American circuit in that light because there will be no geographical overlap.

Ben Robert, a Montreal native and hockey lifer who now lives in California, is the driving force behind the nameless league. Robert, the managing and founding partner of West Coast Hockey Sports and Entertainment, has had an interesting career as a former player, working for the Los Angeles Kings in business and co-owning the USHL's Omaha Lancers with Hall of Famers Luc Robitaille and Mario Lemieux. Robert was also instrumental in the construction of Quebec City's NHL-caliber Videotron Center.

Now comes the task of bringing top-tier junior hockey to the West Coast. The goal is to have a team on the ice for the 2023-24 season, giving the new league time to recruit players and establish ownership and infrastructure. According to Robert, the idea is to start with six teams and expand to twelve in the future years. If you're wondering where the game will be played, the Kings, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and Vegas Golden Knights have all signed a joint statement praising the project:

"As the game of hockey continues to enjoy unprecedented growth, this is a significant step forward to not only help retain the top players from many of these areas, but to provide them with the best opportunities and resources to pursue their hockey dreams," read the statement. "We are pleased to help support this new venture and we are excited to see how the league evolves and develops."

One of Robert's goals for that support is for his league's teams to develop NHL-style cultures.

"Our mission is to do it the right way and for the right reasons," he told me. "We want to focus on the development of the human being as well as the skills: Recovery, nutrition, coaching, tutoring."