David Branch in 2014
|Alma mater||University of Massachusetts Amherst|
|Occupation||Ontario Hockey League commissioner (1979–present),|
Canadian Hockey League president (1996–2019)
David Branch (born November 27, 1948 in Bathurst, New Brunswick) is a Canadian hockey administrator and builder, with a long involvement in junior ice hockey. He has served as commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League since September 15, 1979, and as president of the Canadian Hockey League since 1996.
Branch played NCAA hockey while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst on a scholarship. After graduating, he moved to Whitby, Ontario, and became involved in coaching minor hockey with the Whitby Wildcats organization, and hockey camps run by Wren Blair and Jim Gregory.
Branch served as secretary-manager of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1974 to 1977. He was hired by Gord Renwick in 1978 to become the new executive director of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association for the retiring Gordon Juckes. He served in that role until 1979.
Branch played a role in the founding of the Ontario Hockey League, by negotiating the split of its predecessor, the OMJHL from the OHA. He became commissioner of the OMJHL in 1979, and the independent OHL in 1980. Under his management, the OHL has grown from 12 teams to 20, and has become a marketable television commodity. Branch became president of the CHL in 1996. During his tenure, the CHL All-Star Challenge evolved into the annual CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, and the CHL Canada/Russia Series was created.
Branch helped develop a scholarship program that affords all players one year of post-secondary education per season played in the league. Branch has advocated for player safety, anti-violence, and mental health. He was instrumental in adopting rules to reduce the number of fights in the OHL. Branch was part of introducing a blindside hit rule in the OHL, and aims to have all members of the CHL introduce similar rules.
Honours and awards
Branch is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee. He was honoured with the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2016, and he was inducted into the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame as a builder in 2017.
- "David Branch (2016)". Hockey Canada. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- "David Branch". Whitby Sports Hall of Fame. 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Young, Scott (1989). 100 Years of Dropping the Puck. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart Inc. pp. 255–256, 292–293. ISBN 0-7710-9093-5.
- "Branch new CAHA director". Lethbridge Herald. Lethbridge, Alberta. June 29, 1977. p. 40.
- "David Branch honoured with the Order of Hockey in Canada". Canadian Hockey League. June 20, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Russon, Randy (October 11, 2016). "OHL a safer place thanks to David Branch". Sault This Week. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
- Mirtle, James (March 24, 2017). "CHL president on fighting in junior hockey: 'We don't need it'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
- Beneteau, Josh (July 30, 2019). "CHL hires NBA executive Dan MacKenzie to be first full-time president". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- Zwolinski, Mark. "Dan MacKenzie named CHL's first full-time president". The Toronto Star. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- Harrigan, Scott (July 30, 2019). "CHL Names Dan MacKenzie First Full-Time President". Independent Sports News. Retrieved August 8, 2019.