Rockets GM Hamilton gives thumbs up to schedule change

The WHL will be shortening its schedule, beginning next year.

In an announcement from the Board of Governors, the league will switch to a 68 game schedule, down from the current 72 games.

Board Chair and Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton says the players will benefit the most from the change.

"From our perspective, it was more about creating more time for school and more time for practice, and also just do less trips on the bus, which I think is beneficial to them all anyways," he said.

"I think most importantly, it's making sure we're taking care of the players as well as we can."

The WHL had been playing a 72 game regular season since 1975.

Hamilton says despite the financial repercussions of a shorter season, it was the right decision.

"Certainly it's a business hit - you lose two games of revenue - and yet that wasn't the focus of the Governors at all. It was all about the player experience, and the school is first and foremost to us all. And then the opportunity to have more practices and skill development, which is what the players really want," he said.

"We're going to be home more, and I would hope that it would allow us to possibly have a little bit better schedule at home. The last two games you schedule are always your toughest, because you're fitting them in somewhere - you're squeezing games in where it'd be nice not have them."

The 68 games also brings the schedule in line with the Ontario and Quebec Major Junior hockey leagues.