With seven teams having left for the CCHA to begin play in the 2021-22 season and another dropping the sport, the WCHA men's league's future is in doubt, but its commissioner is staying involved with hockey.
Bill Robertson, who has served as commissioner of the WCHA since 2014, on Friday was named president and commissioner of the United State Hockey League. He takes over for Tom Garrity, who has served in that role since November of 2017. Robertson will finish his WCHA career on June 30 and start with the USHL on July 12.
"I'm excited to be joining the USHL,'' Robertson said. "It's the premier league in Tier I in junior hockey, and I think I can add some value to the league. I'm looking forward to this new challenge.''
Robertson, 60, has been a longtime sports executive, serving as director of communications for the Wild from 1998-2011, the Timberwolves from 1989-93 and The Walt Disney Company, leading communications for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Anaheim Angels (1993-98).
The USHL position enables Robertson, a St. Paul native, to stay involved in hockey and remain based in the Twin Cities. "What attracted me to this is in all my years in the WCHA, I kept looking at the rosters and saw all the players coming from the USHL to the WCHA and other leagues,'' he said. "The feeder program is fantastic.''
Garrity became USHL commissioner on an interim basis and believes the league will be in good shape with Robertson.
"I've known and worked with Bill for 20 years and am confident in saying the USHL is in great hands with Bill taking over," Garrity said in statement. "We had a lot of fantastic candidates for the position but feel Bill's experience in the sport will help continue to grow the league's pedigree as one of the best junior hockey leagues in the world.''
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the USHL played a 54-game regular season with 14 teams instead of 16 in 2020-21, and Robertson wants to make sure all teams are back on sound footing.
"The goal is for all the franchises to be whole,'' he said. "We want to make sure all the franchises are doing the right things to promote their markets and get them going.''
Robertson credited his staff with the WCHA
"I would not have been in this position to join the USHL unless I had the seven-plus years of experience with the WCHA, which in my mind was a great league and had so many great people it in,'' Robertson said. "I will miss the great staff that I worked with.''