The Ontario Hockey League (OHL; French: Ligue de hockey de l'Ontario (LHO)) is one of the three major junior ice hockey leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League. The league is for players aged 16–20. There are currently 20 teams in the OHL: seventeen in Ontario, two in Michigan, and one in Pennsylvania.

Ontario Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2023–24 OHL season
SportIce hockey
CEODavid Branch[1]
No. of teams20
CountriesCanada (17 teams)
USA (3 teams)
Most recent
London Knights (5)
Most titlesOshawa Generals (13)
TV partner(s)OHL Live, TSN, YourTV, Rogers TV, TV Rogers
OHL All-Star Game opening face off at Belleville's Yardmen Arena on February 1, 2006

The league was founded in 1980 when its predecessor, the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League, formally split away from the Ontario Hockey Association, joining the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League and its direct affiliation with Hockey Canada. The OHL traces its history of Junior A hockey back to 1933 with the partition of Junior A and B. In 1970, the OHA Junior A League was one of five Junior A leagues operating in Ontario. The OHA was promoted to Tier I Junior A for the 1970–71 season and took up the name Ontario Major Junior Hockey League. Since 1980 the league has grown rapidly into a high-profile marketable product, with many games broadcast on television and radio.



Leagues for ice hockey in Ontario were first organized in 1890 by the newly created Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). In 1892 the OHA recognized junior hockey - referring to skill rather than age. In 1896 the OHA moved to the modern age-limited junior hockey concept, distinct from senior and intermediate divisions. Since then the evolution to the Ontario Hockey League has developed through four distinct eras of junior-aged non-professional hockey in Ontario. In 1933, the junior division was divided into two levels, Junior A and Junior B. In 1970 the Junior A level was divided into two levels, Tier I (or Major Junior A) and Tier II (or Minor Junior A). In 1974 the Tier I/Major Junior A group separated from the OHA and became the independent Ontario Major Junior Hockey League (OMJHL). In 1980, the OMJHL became the Ontario Hockey League.

The OHL split from the OHA in July 1982.[2] The OHA and OHL disagreed on financial terms of affiliation, then the OHL decided to handle its own administration.[2][3] The OHA and the OHL later reached an interim affiliation agreement, which allowed the OHL to compete at the Memorial Cup.[4]

In March 2005, the league announced the launch of OHL Live Stream, resulting in OHL games being broadcast live on a pay-per-view (PPV) broadband basis.[5]



OMJHL and OHL Commissioners (years in office)[6]

Member teams


Former teams


Timeline of franchises (since 1980)


Note: The 12 original OHL franchises were all previously members of the OMJHL. Some other franchises played in different junior leagues prior to joining the OHL.

Former member Current member



The 20 OHL clubs play a 68-game unbalanced schedule, which starts in the third full week of September, running until the third week of March. Ninety percent (90%) of OHL games are scheduled between Thursday and Sunday to minimize the number of school days missed for its players.

Approximately 20% of players on active rosters in the National Hockey League (NHL) have come from the OHL, and about 54% of NHL players are alumni of the Canadian Hockey League.

OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup


The J. Ross Robertson Cup is awarded annually to the winner of the Championship Series. The Cup is named for John Ross Robertson, who was president of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1901 to 1905.

The OHL playoffs consist of the top 16 teams in the league, 8 from each conference. The teams play a best-of-seven game series, and the winner of each series advances to the next round. The final two teams eventually compete for the J. Ross Robertson Cup.

The OHL champion then competes with the winners of the Western Hockey League, the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League, and the host of the tournament to play for the Memorial Cup, which is awarded to the junior hockey champions of Canada. The host team of the tournament is alternated between the three leagues every season. The most recent OHL team to win the Memorial Cup was the Saginaw Spirit in 2024.[8]

Memorial Cup champions


The Memorial Cup has been captured 18 times by OHL/OHA teams since the tournament went to a three-league format in 1972:

The Cup was also won 16 times by OHA teams in the period between 1945 and 1971:

Priority selection


The OHL's predecessor, the OHA, had a midget and juvenile draft dating back to the 50s, until voted out in 1962. In 1966 it was resumed, though not publicized. Starting in the 1970s the draft went through several changes. Originally the draft was for 17-year-old midgets not already associated with teams through their sponsored youth programs. In 1971 the league first allowed "underage" midgets to be picked in the first three rounds. In 1972 disagreements about the Toronto team's rights to its "Marlie" players (and Greg Neeld) and claims to American player Mark Howe led to a revised system. In 1973 each team was permitted to protect eight midget area players (Toronto was allowed to protect 10 players from its midget sponsored teams). In 1975 the league phased out the area protections, and the 1976 OHA midget draft was the first in which all midget players were eligible. In 1999 the league changed the draft to a bantam age (15 and 16 year old). It is a selection of players who are residents of the province of Ontario, the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, and other designated U.S. states east of the Mississippi River plus Missouri.

Prior to 2001, the OHL held the Priority Selection in a public forum, such as an arena. Drafts were attended by many players and family members. In 2001, the OHL decided to hold the "draft" via the internet, greatly reducing the costs the league and its member teams incurred in hosting a public draft. This move reduced the stress and pressure that prospective players faced with a large crowd present.

The Jack Ferguson Award is presented annually to the first overall selection. The award was named in honour of long time OHL scout and former Director of Central Scouting Jack Ferguson.

Trophies and awards


List of trophies and awards in the Ontario Hockey League.[9]

Playoffs trophies
Trophy name Recognition Founded
J. Ross Robertson Cup OHL Finals champion 1934
Bobby Orr Trophy Eastern Conference champion 1999
Wayne Gretzky Trophy Western Conference champion 1999
Wayne Gretzky 99 Award Playoffs MVP 1999
Regular season — Team trophies
Trophy name Recognition Founded
Hamilton Spectator Trophy Team with best record 1958
Leyden Trophy East division champion 1976
Emms Trophy Central division champion 1976
Bumbacco Trophy West division champion 1995
Holody Trophy Midwest division champion 1999
Regular season — Executive awards
Trophy name Recognition Founded
Matt Leyden Trophy Coach of the year 1972
Jim Gregory Award General manager of the year 2020
Bill Long Award Lifetime achievement 1989
OHL Executive of the Year Executive of the Year (not awarded since 2013) 1990
Regular season — Player awards
Trophy name Recognition Founded
Red Tilson Trophy Most outstanding player 1945
Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy Top scorer 1946
Dave Pinkney Trophy Lowest team goals against 1949
Max Kaminsky Trophy Most outstanding defenceman 1961
Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy Top scoring right winger 1972
Emms Family Award Rookie of the year 1973
William Hanley Trophy Most sportsmanlike player 1975
F. W. "Dinty" Moore Trophy Best rookie GAA 1976
Bobby Smith Trophy Scholastic player of the year 1980
Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy Overage player of the year 1984
OHL Goaltender of the Year Goaltender of the year 1988
Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy Humanitarian of the year 1993
Roger Neilson Memorial Award Top academic college/university player 2005
Ivan Tennant Memorial Award Top academic high school player 2005
Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy Team captain that best exemplifies character and commitment 2009
First All-Star Team Best player at each position as determined by the league's GMs 1915
Second All-Star Team Second best player at each position as determined by the league's GMs 1968
Third All-Star Team Third best player at each position as determined by the league's GMs 1975
Second All-Rookie Team Best rookie at each position as determined by the league's GMs 1992
Second All-Rookie Team Second best rookie at each position as determined by the league's GMs 1992
Prospect player awards
Trophy name Recognition Founded
Jack Ferguson Award First overall pick in priority selection 1981
Tim Adams Memorial Trophy OHL Cup MVP 2003

See also



  1. ^ "OHL Directory". Ontario Hockey League. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Nelson, Jim (July 8, 1982). "Breakup now official, OHL, OHA separate". Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. p. 37. 
  3. ^ "Financial dispute with OHA forces OHL to go on its own". The Kingston Whig-Standard. Kingston, Ontario. The Canadian Press. August 18, 1982. p. 45. 
  4. ^ "Rebel OHL now forgiven one". Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. The Canadian Press. December 21, 1982. p. 13. 
  5. ^ "Ontario Hockey League launches OHL Live Stream: OHL to Webcast over 2000 PPV Games – INSINC". Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  6. ^ Bell, Aaron (2007). 2007–08 Information Guide and Player Register. Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Hockey League. p. 12.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Scott Wheeler (June 2, 2024). "Saginaw Spirit stun London Knights to claim 2024 Memorial Cup: Which prospects shined?". The New York Times. New York, New York.
  9. ^ "OHL Awards". Ontario Hockey League. Canadian Hockey League. Retrieved January 5, 2018.