Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the WHL Board of Governors has agreed to a new three-year contract extension with WHL Commissioner Ron Robison.
Born and raised in Indian Head, Sask., Robison joined the WHL as Commissioner and Chief Executive Office prior to the start of the 2000-01 season after spending nearly 20 years as a senior executive with Hockey Canada. The 2020-21 WHL Regular Season marked Robison’s 21st season at the helm of the WHL. The three-year contract will extend Robison through the 2023-24 WHL season.
As he enters his 22nd season, Robison is set to become the longest-serving Commissioner in WHL history, surpassing former WHL President Ed Chynoweth, who guided the WHL for 21 seasons (1973-79; 1980-95).
“The WHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to extend the contract of WHL Commissioner Ron Robison,” commented Bruce Hamilton, WHL Chairman of the Board. “Over 21 years, Ron has done a tremendous job of continually elevating the Western Hockey League, including guiding the WHL through the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring all Clubs were able to deliver a development season for WHL players. As we emerge from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ron’s continued leadership will be vital for the WHL to maintain its standing as a world leader in hockey development, player experience, and hockey scholarships.”
Under Robison’s leadership, the WHL has experienced unprecedented growth. The WHL, is the world’s largest major junior hockey league in the world with 22 member Clubs throughout Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The WHL continues to serve as a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League and Canada’s National Hockey Teams, and is also a leading provider of hockey scholarships with close to 400 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice.
Most recently, Robison guided the WHL through the COVID-19 pandemic, successfully delivering an important development season in 2020-21 for WHL players during a time where many elite athletic programs were not in a position to operate. Robison also continues to service on the CHL Executive Council and CHL Board of Directors.
“It is an honour and privilege to continue serving as Commissioner of this great league,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “I am very fortunate to work with a highly committed ownership group and staff with our 22 member Clubs and exceptionally dedicated staff at our WHL Office who continue to be focused on maintaining the WHL’s position as a world-leading development league in the seasons ahead.”
WHL Announces Retirement of Yvonne Bergmann – WHL Vice President, Business
The WHL announced today the retirement of WHL Vice President, Business, Yvonne Bergmann, following 20 years of successfully leading the marketing, finance and administrative operations of the WHL Office in Calgary. Considered to be one of the top female executives in hockey, Bergmann joined the WHL as Director, Business Operations prior to the start of the 2001-02 season. Under Bergmann’s leadership, the WHL experienced remarkable growth in corporate partnerships, rising to all-time highs prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yvonne Bergmann has made an extraordinary contribution to the WHL over the past 20 years, taking our support from the corporate sector to levels we never envisioned,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Yvonne’s leadership on the business side of our operations has enabled the WHL and our member Clubs to significantly enhance the WHL experience for both our players and our fans.”
Aside from her exceptional work in business development and corporate partnerships at both the regional and national levels, Bergmann played a critical role in the planning and execution of numerous national events, including six Memorial Cup tournaments, highlighted most recently by the 100th Memorial Cup celebration in Regina (2018).
“The retirement of Yvonne Bergmann is a huge loss for the WHL,” commented Bruce Hamilton, WHL Chairman of the Board. “We are losing an incredible leader who brought an entirely new business model to the WHL, which pushed all of our Clubs to evolve and change the way they think about the business side of their operations. The WHL is poised to continue reaching new levels of excellence because of Yvonne’s contributions, and we cannot thank her enough for her loyal service over the past two decades. We wish her all the best as she embarks on her well-deserved retirement.”
Prior to her time with the WHL, Bergmann served over 10 years with Hockey Canada as Director, Marketing and Events (1988-98), and three years with Icelink International as Director, Operations (1998-01).
The WHL extends its gratitude to Bergmann for over two decades of passionate and loyal service, and wishes her the best of health and happiness as she embarks on a well-deserved retirement.
Bergmann’s retirement will be effective Wednesday, June 30.
WHL Announces Appointment of Marco De Iaco – WHL Vice President, Business Development
The WHL announced today the appointment of Marco De Iaco as WHL Vice President, Business Development, following an extensive search process. In his new role, De Iaco will be responsible for maintaining and establishing new corporate partnerships and elevating the WHL brand to new heights coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
De Iaco, a native of Peachland, B.C. and longtime resident of Calgary, most recently served as the President and CEO of JMI Sport & Entertainment Projects, a consulting firm specializing in business development and the hosting of major sports events. Previously, De Iaco was Vice President, Sales, Sports & Major Events with Tourism Calgary from 2008-2016 where he also served as Executive Director of the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority. He also was the Director of the Calgary Olympic Bid Exploration Committee in 2016 and 2017 before joining the Calgary Downtown Association as Executive Director from 2018-2020.
De Iaco’s previous special event experience also includes lead volunteer roles with the 2008 and 2016 JUNO Awards, as well as the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in Calgary and Edmonton.
De Iaco will start in his new role effective Monday, June 21.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.