December 27, 2014

Murray Williamson And The Origins of The World Junior Hockey Championships

A fantastic article by Mike Brophy in The Hockey News about the origins of the World Junior Hockey Championships:

For avid hockey fans, the annual World Junior Championship is a highlight of the hockey season.

Featuring many of the best prospects on the planet, the WJC has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1973. The brainchild of Murray Williamson, a Winnipeg native who moved to the United States to play for the University of Minnesota, his initial motivation was to promote junior hockey in the United States.

“I had no idea it would grow this big,” Williamson said. “I knew it would get something going in the United States because the concept of high-level junior hockey had not taken hold here.”

Williamson helped form the six-team (Minnesota, Thunder Bay, St. Paul, Fargo-Moorhead, St. Cloud and Chicago) Midwest Junior League in 1973. To promote the loop, he created an all-star team to play an exhibition game against Peterborough of the Ontario Association.

“As an incentive to attract players, I thought we should get a world junior tournament going,” Williamson said. “I found out the Russians were holding a tournament in Leningrad. They added teams from Canada and the United States.

The article goes on to explore the WJC's growth into, at least in Canada, the most important annual hockey tournament outside of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Here's the full article.

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