Builder – Hockey
Dave Branch was born in Bathurst, New Brunswick in 1948, where began playing hockey at a very young age. He subsequently attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on a hockey scholarship before ultimately relocating to the Town of Whitby.
After his playing career, Dave remained connected to the game of hockey in an executive capacity. He served as Secretary-Manager of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) from 1973 to 1977 and held the position of Executive Director of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) until 1979.
In September of that same year, Dave became Commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and he remains in that role today. Under his leadership, the OHL has seen growth in its membership from 12 to 20 teams, and it has also become a highly marketable television commodity. While he is known as a strict disciplinarian in dealing with unsportsmanlike play and rule infringements, most notably in relation to head injuries and overall player safety, Dave also places a significant emphasis on education, with the OHL currently maintaining a 98% high school graduation rate for all players. Furthermore, the league has developed a scholarship program that affords all players one year of post-secondary education per year played in the league.
The Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL), which has eventually come to be known as the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), was founded in 1975 to act as the governing body for Major Junior Hockey in Canada. In 1996, Dave added the duties of CHL President to his OHL responsibilities, and he currently oversees the operations of three leagues and a total of 60 teams throughout Canada and several American states.
The CHL is recognized worldwide as the foremost junior hockey league for the development of players and officials advancing to the professional ranks in North America. In his role as CHL President, Dave has spearheaded several annual events to further enhance the profile of junior hockey in and across Canada, including such initiatives as the CHL Top Prospects Game and the Canada-Russia Challenge exhibition series.
Dave also stays connected with hockey at the hometown level, volunteering his time as a coach in the Whitby Minor Hockey Association.