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The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), formerly known as the Metro Toronto Hockey League, is a minor level ice hockey organization based in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario. The league was founded in 1911 as the Beaches Hockey League by Fred C. Waghorne, Sr., and it is the largest minor hockey organization in the world. The league is sanctioned by the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada.
The Greater Toronto Hockey League was founded in 1911 by Frank D. Smith. Its first season consisted of 5 teams and 99 players. Smith was 17 years old when he founded the organization, and would continue to oversee the operation for 50 years. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962 in part for his contributions to minor hockey in Toronto.
The League's name underwent several changes over its history. Originally called the Beaches League, it was renamed to the Toronto Hockey League (THL) shortly after its inception. It was renamed again in 1972 to the Metropolitan Toronto Hockey League before settling on the current Greater Toronto Hockey League moniker in 1998. The League saw increases in membership during its first few years. During World War I, the then THL maintained its numbers due to having younger age divisions, such as peewee and bantam, where the players were too young to participate in the war. By the 1960s, The league had over 20,000 members on teams across Toronto.
In 2011, the Greater Toronto Hockey League and its affiliates consisted of 2,800 teams and around 40,000 players. It is currently the largest youth ice hockey organization in the world in terms of members. The league has expanded its area of operation over the years from primarily the city of Toronto to many of its surrounding municipalities. Currently, there are 51 separate associations that operate under the GTHL. These associations provide teams for the various age groups and divisions that make up the league. Around 275 GTHL alumni have gone on to play in North American professional ice hockey leagues, such as the National Hockey League and the defunct World Hockey Association.
The GTHL is a not-for-profit organization, however its operating costs are high. In 2011, league expenses were in excess of $9 million per year. The high costs of operating teams has been an issue for the league, with some teams having trouble paying for the increasing costs of ice in the Toronto area. The costs for someone to play on a AAA GTHL team, its highest level of play, is approximately $6,000 per player.
In 2011, the GTHL along with Hockey Canada changed its rules regarding hits to the head. Stricter rules were placed on what constituted a hit to the head, and the severity of punishment for instances of it was increased.
The GTHL serves as the parent organization for several other minor hockey leagues. These leagues coordinate "Select" League play for players in the Toronto area seeking to play at a level below "rep" teams in the GTHL.
The GTHL runs competitive leagues at the "rep" levels (AAA, AA, and A), as well as coordinating several affiliates to operate "Select" leagues throughout the city. Rep hockey in the GTHL begins at "minor Atom" (U9) age and continues through U21. House League and Select programs include children of all ages, extending from Timbits (3 or 4 years of age) all the way to U21.
All hockey is played under "Hockey Canada" rules. There is no body checking allowed at all age groups for "select" and rep "A" level in the GTHL and affiliates. Body checking is permitted for minor bantam (U13) and above for the rep "AA" and rep "AAA" levels.
On opening day for the 2017-18, approximately 8% of all NHL roster players had played in the GTHL at some point.  GTHL alumni who have played in the NHL in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 include: