Dan Near: From Adidas Executive to WHL Commissioner

Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Dan Near, a prominent figure in the hockey world and former executive at Adidas, has been named the new commissioner of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Near, 43, is known for his innovative work at Adidas, particularly for leading the NHL’s “Reverse Retro” jersey program. This program, celebrated for blending tradition with modern flair, mirrors Near’s vision for hockey's evolution. Near's appointment was announced at a press conference in Calgary, marking a significant transition from his role in the corporate sector to a pivotal leadership position in one of junior hockey's top leagues​

Slated to start his role on January 1, Near will officially take over from Ron Robison on February 15. Robison, who has led the WHL for over two decades, has been credited with numerous contributions, including efforts in education and changing hockey culture. Near, who has more than a decade of experience with the NHL, brings a forward-thinking approach to the league. His selection, following a rigorous search process led by Vancouver Giants owner Ron Toigo, underscores the WHL's commitment to innovative leadership and strategic vision for the future​

The WHL, a major junior circuit under the Canadian Hockey League, comprises 22 teams across four Canadian provinces and two U.S. states. Near's vision for the league emphasizes inclusivity, safety, and the need to evolve in accordance with the values of its fans, players, and their families. This approach is particularly relevant in light of recent challenges, such as the controversy surrounding the Lethbridge Hurricanes' hiring of former Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters. Near acknowledges the need for robust policies and programs that promote safety and inclusivity within the league, indicating his commitment to addressing these issues proactively