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COLLEGE HOCKEY: WCHA commissioner McLeod to step down after Frozen Four

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Bruce McLeod has watched the Western Collegiate Hockey Association rise to prominence, break up and be put back together during his 20-year run as commissioner of the league.

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He’s been there for the league’s best times and most challenging times, and after this year’s NCAA Frozen Four, he will step down as the head of the league.

Before the season, McLeod officially announced his retirement will take place at the end of a year that, he said, has been both challenging and a lot of fun.

“This whole retirement thing has grown on me,” McLeod said last weekend in Cincinnati, where he watched two former WCHA members (North Dakota, Wisconsin) and one current member (Ferris State) competed in the NCAA Midwest Regional. “I told the league about a year and a half ago that was my thinking. It’s kind of a new time, maybe a little different way of doing business. My contract was up after this year. I thought, ‘I’ll let them have a choice. If they want me to stick around, they’ll talk to me about it. If they want to move on, that’s OK, too.’ Well, they didn’t ask me to stick around. But that’s good.”

The WCHA is currently conducting a national search for McLeod’s replacement. On the women’s side, it also is looking for a new commissioner as Sara Martin stepped down, too.

McLeod said he plans to work part time in his retirement. He has talked to a couple of NHL teams as well as friends who work in the Denver business community.

“I know one thing,” McLeod said. “Here’s the biggest thing: I don’t want to be in charge of anything. I don’t want to be in charge. I want someone to tell me what to do.”

Last summer, the WCHA lost eight teams to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Big Ten and replaced them with five squads from the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association and independent Alabama Huntsville.

The shifting of the leagues created a lot more work for the McLeod and the league office, but in the end, the 67-year-old former Minnesota Duluth hockey player said he enjoyed the 2013-14 season.

“I didn’t know how it was going to be at the start of the year,” McLeod said. “There was a lot of anxiety heading into the year. Once the hockey started – not the administrative parts – once the hockey started, then it was fine. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this year. I found out some things, like about Ferris State.”

The Bulldogs won the MacNaughton Cup as the league’s regular-season champ. Minnesota State-Mankato won the Broadmoor Trophy as the league’s postseason champ. Both teams made the NCAA tournament, too. The Bulldogs reached the regional final, where they lost to UND in double overtime.

“The whole streaming thing worked fantastic for us,” McLeod said of the league’s online viewing package. “I just thoroughly enjoyed sitting at home and watching all of our games. We have teams in many different time zones, so you could watch games all night. I got to see a lot more games than I normally do.”

McLeod said he plans to be in Philadelphia for the NCAA Frozen Four, featuring UND, Minnesota, Boston College and Union. He will officially step down from his commissioner position in the summer.

“It has grown on me,” McLeod said about retirement. “Anybody that retires knows that there’s anxiety there. But it has grown on me. I’m really getting to the point where I am ready.”

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