Former WCHA associate commissioner Doug Spencer has been chosen the 2020 recipient of the WCHA Otto Breitenbach Distinguished Service Award.
The Breitenbach Award is presented by the WCHA’s 10 member institutions to individuals who have rendered extraordinary service to the association. Spencer is the 42nd recipient of the award. Among the previous winners are head coaches Herb Brooks, Bob Johnson, John Mariucci and John MacInnes and former commissioners Bruce McLeod, Burt Smith and the award’s namesake, Otto Breitenbach.
Spencer is the second former WCHA publicist to be honored, joining Bob Reid, who served the league from 1953 to 1974.
“We want to congratulate Doug on receiving the prestigious Otto Breitenbach Award,” WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson said in a statement. “Doug’s devotion to both the men’s and women’s WCHA during his long and distinguished career was highlighted by his passion for the league, which was second to none.”
Spencer served the WCHA for 36 years, first as the assistant sports information director at Wisconsin (1982-90) and as the WCHA associate commissioner of public relations (1986-2014).
“I am both humbled and truly honored to have been chosen to receive the WCHA’s Otto Breitenbach Distinguished Service Award,” Spencer said. “There were so many special moments over my four decades with the league it’s impossible to mention them all. But I was fortunate to have worked with many, many legendary coaches, commissioners, referees and administrators. The WCHA, in my opinion, is the best college hockey league in history. And I will always be extremely proud to have been a part of it.”
Spencer coordinated public and media information needs, assisted in the general administration of the annual WCHA Final Five, produced numerous publications for both the men’s and women’s leagues, issued regular press releases and statistics, and maintained the WCHA’s record books.
“As someone who worked with Doug throughout his time with the WCHA, I saw his dedication to the league first-hand,” WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd said. “Doug worked tirelessly to promote our league and our student-athletes during a time when the WCHA enjoyed some of its greatest success.
“There was no one better at his job.”
Spencer oversaw the initial development and management of the league’s first website and its long-running radio show, “This Week in the WCHA.” He directed promotional efforts associated with the WCHA’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2001-02, including coordinating production of a five-disk DVD series that covered each of the league’s first five decades, a “Top 50 Players in 50 Years” unveiling, a 50-year reunion and reception for league alumni, and all logos, banners and merchandise.
Spencer also traveled to Switzerland and Norway with WCHA all-star teams and assisted in hosting international touring teams from Russia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
Spencer’s distinguished career with both the men’s and women’s WCHA included publicity efforts surrounding 25 NCAA championship teams, multiple Hobey Baker Memorial Award and Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners, and hundreds of All-Americans and Olympians.
Spencer, who also served as the publicity and publications director for the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States (now USA Hockey) from 1979 to 1982, was honored by the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2015 as the recipient of the annual Jim Fullerton Award.
Breitenbach served as the WCHA’s second commissioner from 1983 to 1994, an era that saw the league produce three national championships (North Dakota- 1987, Wisconsin- 1990 and Northern Michigan- 1991) and five Hobey Baker winners. Breitenbach was oversaw the return of Michigan Tech to the WCHA along with the addition of Northern Michigan, St. Cloud State and Alaska Anchorage. He was also instrumental in the development of the WCHA Final Five postseason tournament.