Dan MacKenzie, the first full-time president of the Canadian Hockey League, recently sat down with Junior Hockey Magazine:
Junior Hockey Magazine: You’re four or five months into this new job as CHL president. How would you assess how things have gone so far?
Dan MacKenzie: It’s been great so far. Transitioning from the basketball world that I was in to the hockey world, honestly has been pretty smooth so far. I had the opportunity as part of the CIBC Canada Russia Series to go across the country. I went to five of the six markets and had an opportunity to speak with a variety of constituents, whether it be fans, billets, season ticket holders, players, some of the general managers and coaches. It was pretty cool. There is lots of passion as far as the types of things we should be focusing on as we try to improve the CHL, so it’s been good so far.
JHM: How vital is it to the CHL to help its graduates continue their education and help launch life after hockey?
DM: This has been the single biggest revelation to me coming into this job was just how important the scholarship program is. The CHL experience gives players truly the best of both worlds. It gives them a world class hockey experience and gets them ready for the next level from a hockey perspective, and then equally important is that our players get a chance to get their post-secondary education covered. When you combine the two, it’s not surprising that we’re getting the best players in the world to come into our league.
JHM: How important is it for CHL member clubs to continue the discussion between coaches, staff, and players about mutual respect amongst each other?
DM: It’s very important. Respect has been a big discussion point in the recent past here, and there is no question that when you look at the history of the game, it continues to evolve for the betterment of the player, so I think we just need to continue to have the discussions in order for the game to improve.
JHM: As part of your job you work with the three commissioners across the CHL. How much have you learned from them in the first few months in the new job?
DM: I’ve been really fortunate in coming into the hockey world from the outside and having the commissioners to lean on and to pick their brains. They have a ton of experience running the three leagues successfully and have been good about and open to me asking questions, and to listening and to considering adjustments and improvements. I am pretty fortunate to have these guys to lean on and it’s been working really well so far.