Chosen by the membership to succeed retiring commissioner Otto Breitenbach for the 1994-95 season, McLeod has led college hockey's most historic and successful league to ever greater heights. He has presided over some of the most successful seasons in the conference's long and noteworthy history, including national championship campaigns by WCHA men's member teams in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2011 and by WCHA women's member teams for 13 consecutive seasons in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
WCHA Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod
The new-look men's WCHA for 2013-14 covers a wide, diverse geographical area that includes five time zones and consists of ten quality institutions that offer the best in both educational and athletic environments in University of Alabama Huntsville, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University. The highly-successful women's WCHA consists of eight member teams in Bemidji State University, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State University, Mankato, University of North Dakota, Ohio State University, St. Cloud State University and University of Wisconsin.
Recognized as one of the true leaders in all of ice hockey, McLeod has a wealth of experience that covers more than six decades in the sport. From being a player and student-athlete in the WCHA in the 1960s, to serving as a member-school administrator in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, and then on to a long tenure as conference commissioner since 1994, he is, pure and simple, a WCHA icon and one of the sport's biggest fans.
McLeod is among a select group of leaders who have had continual impact on the college hockey scene – whether the topic concerns expansion, playing rules, the national tournament, corporate sponsorships, professional issues, television or promotions. He was instrumental in the formation of a new Division 1 league - College Hockey America - which announced in 2001 that they would name their championship trophy in his honor. He is a key contributor to the sport of ice hockey on national, international and professional levels and plays a lead role in the Hockey Commissioners' Association. The HCA serves as a springboard of ideas for the six Div. 1 conference's, having introduced a national rookie of the year award, the Derek Hines' Unsung Hero Award, a national player of the month award, a national rookie of the month award, a new XM Satellite radio show, and a new web site to promote college hockey - www.playcollegehockey.com.
McLeod's tireless and on-going efforts on behalf of amateur ice hockey have seen him twice honored nationally - first with the United States Hockey Hall of Fame's first-ever President's Award in 2003 and second with the American Hockey Coaches' Association Jim Fullerton Award in April of 2004. The President's Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant and long-term commitment to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame while the Jim Fullerton Award recognizes an individual who loves the purity of the sport of ice hockey - whether a coach, administrator, trainer, official, journalist or simply a fan - and who exemplifies Jim Fullerton, who gave as much as he received and never stopped caring about the direction in which our game was heading.
Since assuming the reigns as Commissioner of the WCHA from the retiring Otto Breitenbach - who had pushed the league to ever-new heights over a highly-successful 10-year span from 1984-1994 - McLeod has continued to move the league forward and add to its continuing evolution via new avenues of prosperity and development. That prosperity has included a lucrative, long-term contract for the men's annual Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five at the 18,000+ seat Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., one of the premier sports facilities in the country and home to the NHL's highly-successful Minnesota Wild.
Entering the 2013-14 season, the 62nd overall for the men's league and the 15th for the still relatively young women's league, commitment to the sport by the league and its member institutions has never been stronger. The new-look men's WCHA for 2013-14 covers a wide, diverse geographical area that includes five time zones and consists of ten quality institutions that offer the best in both educational and athletic environments in University of Alabama Huntsville, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University. The highly-successful women's WCHA consists of eight member teams in Bemidji State University, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State University, Mankato, University of North Dakota, Ohio State University, St. Cloud State University and University of Wisconsin.
Conference attendance for both men's and women's games continues to grow and interest in the sport of college hockey itself continues to grow both across the league and across the country. Attendance in the men's league has exceeded the 1,000,000 mark for 18 consecutive seasons now and has now topped the 1,500,000 mark the past nine straight campaigns, including a record 1,695,022 in 2012-13. The 2007 Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul attracted a record 88,900 fans while the most recent playoff championship tournament – the 2013 Red Baron WCHA Final Five – drew the third highest total ever at 87,295. Attendance in the women's WCHA also continues to hold the lead on a national basis, with WCHA-member teams Minnesota, Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth ranking first, second and third respectively in both average home attendance and total home attendance.
McLeod's productive tenure at the helm of the WCHA has recently included an on-going video history of the men's WCHA, being chronicled decade-by-decade with the 1950s completed in 2009, the 1960s in 2010, the 1970s in 2011, the 1980s in 2012 and the 1990s in 2013, the addition of two new member teams - Bemidji State University and the University of Nebraska Omaha to the men's league beginning with the 2010-11 season, ever-increasing exposure for the league through expanded marketing efforts, increased television (over 200 games are telecast annually and the annual Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five is telecast live via Fox Sports North), continuing success for league-member teams, coaches and student- athletes on the ice and in the classroom, record levels of attendance, new avenues and increased levels of corporate sponsorships and promotions, conference championship tournaments (men's WCHA Final Five and women's WCHA Championship) that continue to reach new levels of success, the advent of a weekly conference radio show known as 'This Week in the WCHA' that is heard across five time zones, a significant presence for the league on the web at wcha.com, and the formation of the WCHA women's league which began play in 1999-2000.
In addition to its successes in national championship tournament play over the years, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association owns an enviable reputation for producing outstanding coaches and student-athletes, with hundreds upon hundreds of its alumni moving on to successful professional and Olympic playing careers. On top of the more than 200 men's and women's league alumni who have Olympic experience playing for the likes of the U.S., Canada, Italy, Norway, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Finland, and France, conference- member teams and players have also received additional international exposure on a regular basis since 1951. The WCHA has hosted touring teams from the USSR, Canada, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, England and France. Under McLeod, the league has maintained a strong international visibility, having sent men's WCHA All-Star Teams to Europe in both 1998 (Switzerland) and 2000 (Norway) while the women's WCHA has also regularly put together all-star teams, including a recent club in 2009. Both the 2005-06 and 2009-10 seasons brought women's WCHA All-Star Team games against the U.S. National Team at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. In 2007-08, a strong Team USA contingent of WCHA players, who were led by Ohio State coach Jackie Barto, won Gold at the 2008 IIHF Women's World Championship in Harbin, China.
During McLeod's tenure, the WCHA has captured both the men's and women's NCAA Frozen Four (national championship) trophies in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2011, there have been 10 WCHA men's players who have won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top player in Brian Bonin (UM, 1976), Jordan Leopold (UM, 2002), Peter Sejna (CC, 2003), Junior Lessard (UMD, 2004), Marty Sertich (CC, 2005), Matt Carle (DU, 2006), Ryan Duncan (UND, 2007), Blake Geoffrion (UW, 2010), Jack Connolly (UMD, 2012) and Drew LeBlanc (SCSU, 2013), and six WCHA women's players who have won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as college hockey's top player in Krissy Wendell (UM, 2005), Sara Bauer (UW, 2006), Jessie Vetter (UW, 2009), Meghan Duggan (UW, 2011), Brianna Decker (UW, 2012) and Amanda Kessel (UM, 2013).
In 2005, the WCHA announced it's inaugural group of 50 WCHA Scholar-Athletes (men and women) and also instituted a new playoff format for the women's post-season tournament. In 2003, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame presented McLeod with the first-ever President's Award, presented to an individual who has made a significant and long-term commitment to the Hall of Fame.
"Being honored with the first President's Award was unexpected, but I'm very appreciative", said McLeod. "When I work with various groups, I don't think about recognition such as this. In my many years of working with the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, the pleasure has truly been mine."
McLeod has been involved with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame's Faceoff Classic since the game's inception in 1974, when it was first played in the Eveleth Hippodrome. Inititally, as Athletic Director at University of Minnesota Duluth, McLeod helped establish the Faceoff Classic, and now as WCHA Commissioner has helped bring the game into much bigger arenas. Through the years, the Faceoff Classic has become an important fundraising event for the Hall.
"Through Bruce's efforts and commitment to help the Hall, we have this wonderful college hockey game once a year and in many cases our Faceoff Classic has opened new arenas across the country," said Jim Findley, Board of Directors President for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2001-02, the WCHA celebrated a highly-successful 50th Anniversary Season under Commissioner McLeod with a number of season-long promotions, including the season-long announcement of the `Top 50 Players in 50 Years' and bringing numerous former players and coaches to Saint Paul for a special anniversary celebration during the WCHA Final Five weekend.
From 1983-96, McLeod was Athletic Director at UMD and over his 25 years of service to that institution he also held titles of assistant athletic director, business manager, and sports information director. A 1969 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a native of Fort Frances, Ont., McLeod was a four-year player on the Bulldogs' hockey team, producing 81 scoring points in 77 games as a winger between 1966-69. As a sophomore, he ranked second in scoring in the WCHA and served as the Bulldogs' team captain in 1968-69.