The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 30, 2014

Frederick column: Outgoing commish worries about soul of college hockey

Bruce McLeod worries about the soul of college hockey.

It's been stolen, the outgoing commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association says, and he wonders if it can ever be recovered.

“It feels like, to me, that we've created apathy,” McLeod said on Monday, his official last day on the job. “I see a lot of concerns about where we're at. At the end of the day, that's a killer for everybody.”

McLeod, speaking by phone from his office in Denver, is referring, of course, to the recent breakup and reconstruction of the WCHA as part of conference realignment that changed the sport forever.

His final season with the WCHA did not end the way he likely thought it would when he first started thinking about retirement. Instead of watching a Final Five championship from the press box of a jam-packed crowd of 18,000-plus at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, he was at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., along with fewer than 4,000 people as Minnesota State beat Ferris State for the Broadmoor Trophy.

“That whole weekend certainly was a little surreal,” he said, “but I just kept telling myself, 'There's no going back. It's not going back to the way it was.'”

Like a lot of people, including new WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson, McLeod says he doesn't think changes within college hockey are done, and he wonders what the the effect will be once that ice finally freezes.

"I'm more concerned than anything about what will happen to the group," he said, "because it's still not settled."

McLeod didn't get a big public sendoff. He said he was spending Monday in his office, located on the campus of the University of Denver, one of those breakaway schools, going through old files and cleaning. It's a project, he said, that likely will take most of the week. Denver's not kicking him out just yet.

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