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Chat Live With WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod

Welcome to the CollegeSports.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, March 29 at 2:00 p.m. EST, WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod visits the Tuesday @ The Rink" chat room. All four teams headed to the Frozen Four in Columbus, OH are members of the WCHA.

In just six seasons at the helm of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Bruce McLeod has already made a significant mark as Commissioner.

Since taking over as Commissioner from the retiring Otto Breitenbach, who took the WCHA to new heights over a successful ten-year span in the 1980s and early 1990s, McLeod has continued to grow the league and add to its continuing evolution via new avenues of prosperity and development. Conference attendance - which has exceeded the 1,000,000 mark per year over each of the last seven seasons - and interest in the sport of college hockey itself, continues to increase across the league and across the country.

Official Site
WCHA Store

McLeod's productive tenure at the helm of the WCHA has already been marked by a significant increase in corporate sponsorships and promotions, the advent of a weekly conference radio show heard across five time zones, the establishment of a league presence on the internet at www.wcha.com, and the emergence of a new Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's league which began play in 1999-2000 and concluded a successful first campaign when the University of Minnesota captured the national championship.

He has also coordinated the continual development and nourishment of the annual WCHA Final Five - one of college hockey's premier post-season tournaments. Over the past year, McLeod was instrumental in landing a new three-year contract for the men's WCHA Final Five at the spectacular new Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.

Prior to becoming Commissioner of the WCHA, McLeod was Director of Athletics at the University of Minnesota-Duluth from 1983-96 where he also held titles of Asst. AD, athletic business manager, and sports information director over his 25 years of service there. A 1969 graduate of Minnesota-Duluth, McLeod was a four-year left winger on the Bulldogs' hockey team, racking up 81 scoring points in 77 games between 1966-69. As a sophomore, he ranked second in scoring in the WCHA, and served as the Bulldogs' team captain during the 1968-69 season.

While McLeod won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 29, feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!

CollegeSports.com Moderator: We are back on Tuesday @ the Rink for the anchor leg of today's tripleheader. Joining us now is WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod.
Bruce McLeod: Glad to be here. I'm ready to answer your questions.

John (Eden Prairie): Congrats on an outstanding year for the WCHA. I (and thousands of other WCHA hockey fans) believe the largest problem regarding the WCHA has been the officiating (incidents such as the Bina/Adam 2 minute call). Are there steps being taken to increase the level/professionalism of officiating?
Bruce McLeod: Regarding the level of officiating in the WCHA this year, I've been around long enough, almost 40 years as a player, administrator or Commissioner, and I really don't feel that the rhetoric regarding officials is at a higher level than earlier years. We are always tuned in to our officiating in the WCHA. I think the fact that we have hired Greg Shepherd on a full-time basis for next year tells everybody the priority that we place on officiating in the WCHA. Specifically regarding the Robbie Bina incident, we are deeply concerned about the action of checking from behind and have made it a priority in all of our officiating clinics and coaches meetings. We feel we have made progress in this area, but certainly haven't gotten to the point of eliminating this part of the game. That is definitely our goal. We were dismayed as anybody at the call that was made and feel the Association corrected that call as quickly as we possibly could. But the original call got us off on the wrong foot and created a bad impression right away. We have a procedure for following up on these types of incidents and the WCHA followed that procedure in dealing with the supplementary discipline that followed.

Jeremy (Colorado Springs): What does it mean for the league to have an all-WCHA Frozen Four??
Bruce McLeod: Certainly, the first reaction is real pride in having done this for the first time in the 58 years of the NCAA Championships. But also understand that a lot of things, icluding the stars, have to line up really goowelld for something like this unusual feat to happen. To be honest, we feel as a league that this circumstance has been building for a while. We've had five games in the National Tournament in the last three years and have actually joked a little about a conspiracy by the NCAA against to put all of the WCHA teams in a couple of brackets. This year with three of the top four seeds from the WCHA, it meant that we were going to be in three different brackets right away and it turned out that we had a team in the fourth bracket, so the stage was set. We certainly had good teams, but at the same time, we have to have a little luck involved too. I think with the five overtime games and eight one goal games, we certainly feel fortunate to come through that on the right side of the scoreborad.

Dan (holliston,Ma): why do you think the WCHA has enjoyed so much success, in recent years, over the other major conferences?
Bruce McLeod: There are a lot of factors that go into it, but the basic building stones for us are the commitments all ten members of the WCHA have towards quality and competitive Division 1 hockey programs. You see this manifested in many ways, but the most obvious are the beautiful buildings that have come on board in the last decade, the quality of the coaches and coaching staffs and the support that we have received for our Final Five tournament. It just all comes together and timing is everything. It all comes together in a very powerful way.

Ben (Portland, Maine): When Tom Anastos was on, Joe Bertagna challenged him to a penalty shot showdown in Columbus -- how would you do shooting on Bertagna?
Bruce McLeod: Joe better be careful with these challenges. I actually saw Joe play and know what kind of goalie he was. I want to remind Joe that I was the second leading scorer in the WCHA one year and had a real reputation as a sniper. I'm not sure how much Joe would want to put on the table should he decide to make the challenge. Also, Joe's track record in bets against the WCHA is not too good and I remind him of the bet we had on the National Champioship game last year and the Denver hockey jersey and hat that he had to wear at the coaches convention.

Kevin (Milwaukee): Do you have any plans to have the Final Five rotate out of Minneapolis/St. paul?
Bruce McLeod: We are in the fourth year of a five year contract and are actually renegotiating the contract right now. We have had contact from other sites, such as the Pepsi Center in Denver, the Bradley Center in Milwaukee and the Target Center in Minneapolis, but to be honest, when they see the scope of the tournament and the dollars now involved, it gets difficult for them to compete. So, I fully expect that later this spring, we'll have a new five year contract at the Xcel Center to announce.

lestatde(milwaukee): The Michigan Wolverines had to play in the regional final 18 hours after their regional semi-final game ended, a fact that may have contributed to CC's four goal come back. Should the NCAA allow at least 24 hours rest in between games, maybe even provide a full day's rest between games?
Bruce McLeod: The underlying issue here is television. The collegiate hockey community has been working long and hard trying to get more exposure for our sport. But more exposure doesn't come without a cost - it is not free. The result is that we have to make compromises regarding game times in order to maximize our exposure across the country. That is the balancing act that we have to work with.

Mike (Minneapolis): Your league covers a lot of area, and borders on a big untapped area out West. What, if anything, are you doing to grow college hockey in that part of the country?
Bruce McLeod: We have been in touch with emerging leagues and programs, examples being the new pro franchise that is in Fort Collins in the 5500 seat Budweiser Center and a group from Pheonx regarding a movement to pursue Division 1 hockey there. It is not specifically in the West, but the fact that I was Commissioner of two leagues for a while (the WCHA and the CCHA) to help them get off the ground, I think attests to the fact that we are working hard to try and grow our sport.

Mark (Robbinsdale, MN): The third place game at this year's WCHA Final Five seemed totally meaningless. It did't have any apparent impact on where Minnesota and North Dakota were seeded in the national tournament. Hockey East has eliminated the third place game from their tournament, would the WCHA consider doing the same?
Bruce McLeod: Every year, we have a discussion regarding our Final Five Tournament and, usually the third place game, at our annual spring meeting. There is always lengthy discussion on the third place game, as to whether it helps or hurts the competing teams as far as the critical RPI rankings are computed. So depending on the year, it can either help or hurt and we just never know how that is going to turn out for us. So we always err on the side that this would be one more opportunity for a team to make its way into the National Tournament.

Jonathan (Denver): I noticed at the Amherst regional that there was almost no one in attendance. What is the best way to overcome the lack of attendance at many of the games in the regional tournaments? Do you think this will be a problem at the frozen four with only WCHA teams?
Bruce McLeod: As to the first part, the NCAA Championship Committee makes those site decisions. As we all know, one of the criteria for placing the teams at regional sites in the seedings process is a gate/financial issue. So I do know that the Championship Commitee does their best to balance the integrity of the seeding process with the financial responsibilities that they have. This site selection process is an ongoing one and certainly is still evolving within the collegiate hockey community. As far as the Frozen Four goes, we have, with all four teams from the WCHA, lost maybe the usual east-west flavor and the interconference rivalry flavor. But, at the same time, the point of the first rounds is to come up with the four best teams in the country, and if collegiate hockey fans want to see that, they will be there.

Alex (St. Paul): What are your picks for the Frozen Four, REALLY?
Bruce McLeod: Obviously, the bottom line for us is that the WCHA is going to win its 35th National Championship. We have won four of the last five National Championships, with North Dakota, Denver and Minnesota each winning the Championship in the last five years. It may seem that it is Colorado College's turn, but really, from a WCHA perspective, we'll let the chips fall where they may and celebrate whoever is standing at the end.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: That wraps things up with the Commissioner.
Bruce McLeod: Thank you all for your great questions. It is a great time for the WCHA. Thank you for your support of the conference.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: That is it for today's edition of Tuesday @ the Rink. But next week will be very special. We start on Tuesday, as always. Denver Head Coach George Gwozdecky will be here at 11:15 Eastern, followed by BU Head Coach Jack Parker at 1:00 Eastern. Then, on Saturday, April 9, it is a very special Championship Chat. UMass-Lowell Head Coach Blaise MacDonald and CSTV's Dave Starman will be here to chat live during the NCAA Championship game, starting at 7:00 Eastern. See you all next week.

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