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David E. Branch (born November 27, 1948 in Bathurst, New Brunswick) has served as the Commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) since September 15, 1979, and as the President of the Canadian Hockey League since 1996. Under his command, the OHL has grown from 12 teams to 20, and has become a highly marketable television commodity.
Branch attended the University of Massachusetts on a hockey scholarship. He has previously served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, and Secretary-Manager of the Ontario Hockey Association.
Branch is a minor hockey coach with the Whitby Wildcats organization. His son Barclay also works with the Wildcats and is currently the Director of Player Personnel for the Belleville Bulls, and previously of the Oshawa Generals.
Branch is known to be a strict disciplinarian, and he has handed out some of the most severe suspensions in the history of organized hockey. Notable suspensions administered by Branch include:
- The suspension of Sudbury Wolves’ Gary Coupal for the remainder of the 1993-94 season and the playoffs for a high-sticking incident.
- A 25-game suspension and then lifetime ban (later appealed) handed to Jeff Kugel of the Windsor Spitfires on Nov. 2, 1998 for coming off the bench to sucker-punch Owen Sound's Juri Golicic.
- In 2005 he expelled Sudbury Wolves’ Kyle Musselman from the OHL for the remainder of his junior eligibility for the sucker-punch to Ottawa player Mark Mancari.
- On October 18, 2005 he suspended coach and General Manager Moe Mantha, Jr. of the Windsor Spitfires for an entire season due to a team hazing incident.
- During the 2009-10 season, after Erie Otters’ Michael Liambas' boarding hit on Kitchener Rangers’ defenseman Ben Fanelli sent Fanelli to the hospital, Branch suspended Liambas completely to end his career in junior hockey.
- Windsor Spitfires’ Zack Kassian received a 20-game suspension during the 2009-10 season for his hit on Barrie Colts’ Matt Kennedy.