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The Portland Winterhawks are living proof that an American major junior hockey franchise can be just as successful – and legendary – as a Canadian one. The Winterhawks are 35 years old, boast 101 NHL alumni and have two Memorial Cups to their name.
They’ve helped make Portland, Oregon an institution of major junior hockey.
Portland Winterhawks Thru the Years
Formerly the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Portland Winterhawks came to be in 1976-77. They’ve been a consistent contender in the WHL since, winning 11 division titles (including the U.S. Division in 2010-11), capturing the President’s Cup (WHL title) twice and taking the Memorial Cup twice in four appearances.
Perhaps their most memorable season was 1997-98, in which the Winterhawks were led by current NHL star sniper Marian Hossa and captured their most recent Memorial Cup. He scored 13 goals in 16 playoff games during that epic season.
Hossa is one of many famous former Winterhawks. Their distinguished group of alumni includes Hall-of-Famers Mark Messier and Cam Neely plus All-Stars like Brenden Morrow, Mike Vernon and many more.
Not only are the Winterhawks famous for their great play and history, they’re respected for their philanthropy.
Once every year, they host a Teddy Bear Toss, during which fans throw teddy bears onto the ice when the team scores its first goal.
The toys are then donated to hospitals and charities as Christmas presents. Portland fans have tossed upwards of 20,000 bears to the ice in one game.
As a multiple Memorial Cup champ and a leader in the community, the Portland Winterhawks are one of the Northwest’s most cherished and heralded sports franchises.
Fans of the team will remember some very popular players from back in the day. The list includes Richard Zednik, Glen Wesley, Clint Malarchuk, Brad Isbister, Ray Ferraro, Dave Babych and Adam Deadmarsh.