Tuesday, July 1, 2014

End of one era, the beginning of another

Monday marked the last official day of work for WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, who is now retired. There wasn't a lot of pomp and circumstance despite 20 years on the job. He spent Monday at his office at the University of Denver, cleaning and going through files. 

I gave him a call and spoke with him about what he leaves behind with the league. It's certainly not the league he expected leave when thoughts of retirement first creeped on his mind.

McLeod oversaw an era of great success in the WCHA and college hockey. He admitted that a lot of that success was not his doing but rather a "perfect storm" of program and facility building -- including the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, which the league took full advantage of for 13 years.

He also oversaw the league's breakup, one sparked by the start of the Big Ten conference and kindled by a splinter group of programs that started the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. McLeod was was left with a league to put back together, grabbing leftovers from the defunct CCHA and independent Alabama Huntsville.

The league survived but McLeod wondered what remained of its and college hockey's soul after realignment. 

You can read more about McLeod in my Free Press column here.

Meanwhile, the conference moves on with Bill Robertson as commissioner. He was in Bemidji on Monday, along with new WCHA women's commissioner Aaron Kemp, starting a goodwill tour of WCHA towns. Not sure when he'll be in Mankato, but it's clear work is already being done to promote and grow the league.

Maybe even to find its soul again. 

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