A quartet of influential contributors to the game of hockey from coast-to-coast have been recognized as Distinguished Honourees of the Order of Hockey in Canada on Monday in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
CHL President and OHL Commissioner David Branch joined all-time great and QMJHL graduate Mario Lemieux, Canadian hockey builder and CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group (Edmonton Oil Kings) Bob Nicholson and female hockey icon Geraldine Heaney in receiving the honours.
Branch, who has served as OHL Commissioner since 1979 and CHL President since 1996, has led the charge in various realms from development to player safety over his lengthy tenure. The Whitby, ON, native has played a pivotal role in making the Canadian Hockey League the number one breeding ground of NHL players on the planet while also championing an extensive scholarship program to equip players for lifelong success.
Having recently wrapped up his 36th season as OHL Commissioner, Branch has overseen the league’s growth from 12 teams to today’s total of 20.
“It’s hard to put into words,” he told hockeycanada.ca’s Chris Jurewicz. “I’m overwhelmed with being recognized with the people that have gone before me, with the people that are in the same class as myself.
“It does cause me to say I’m not sure I fit into that stratosphere with the likes of a Mario Lemieux or a Bob Nicholson or a Geraldine Heaney. And you look back at Jean Béliveau and Pat Quinn. To me, it’s absolutely incredible to think that I am being recognized with the likes of those people.”
For an extensive look at the life and legacy of OHL Commissioner David Branch, please visit hockeycanada.ca.