David Branch says he will retire as Ontario Hockey League commissioner, a role he has held since the league was founded in 1980, after the upcoming season.
Branch was named commissioner of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League on Sept. 15, 1979.
The helped negotiate the formation of the OHL, which was the product of the OMJHL’s split from the Ontario Hockey Association.
Branch was also president of the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella major junior hockey organization that includes the OHL, the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, from 1996 to 2019, when he was succeeded by Dan MacKenzie.
Branch said in a statement that he informed the OHL’s board of governors earlier this summer of his intent to retire after his 45th season at the helm.
A native of Bathurst, N.B., Branch was named to the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2016.
“I have had the pleasure of seeing young players pursue their professional and academic goals, with countless graduates advancing to the National Hockey League and other levels of professional hockey as well as the highly-competitive U SPORTS ranks through use of their OHL Scholarship,” Branch said in a statement.
“Countless players have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, emergency service workers, skilled tradespeople or other professionals that make tremendous contributions in our society, including participating in minor hockey as volunteer coaches and officials.”