Danny McLeod

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Former NHL Supervisor of Officials, Major Danny McLeod to be honoured with prestigious "Birchall Leadership Award"

The Birchall Leadership Award is presented by the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada [Calgary Branch] to honour the memory of 2364 Air Commodore Leonard J. Birchall CM, OBE, DFC, OO, CD [1915-2004], the "Saviour of Ceylon". This extraordinary leader, a distinguished RMC ex-cadet, RCAF career officer, former Commandant of RMC, Honourary Colonel of 413 Squadron and until his death on September 10, 2004, the Vice-Patron of the RMC Club, exemplified a unique leadership quality which this award celebrates, and that is the ability to stand up in the face of difficulty or adversity to promote the welfare and safety of those under his command.

Major W.J. "Danny" McLeod was born in Medicine Hat on November 5, 1921. He received his education in the local area and was very active in sports during his youth. From those early years, he developed the attributes of competitiveness and fairness. Danny’s early educators instructed him to reason and be logical. He learned to do well at sports through hard work combined with natural abilities. He also learned that although speed and perseverance were key, teamwork and Esprit de Corps are the main elements to success both in sports and life.

Those leadership skills Major McLeod developed as a youth were put to the test when the Second World War began in 1939. He enlisted in the South Alberta Regiment immediately after Canada declared war on Germany. In the next few years, Danny was promoted through the ranks from Trooper to Lance Corporal, Corporal, Lance Sergeant, Sergeant, and Acting Warrant Officer.

In 1942, he was appointed as an Officer Cadet and became the first Canadian posted to the Sandhurst Military Academy in the United Kingdom for officer training. True to his nature, Danny took full advantage of this opportunity and on graduation he placed first in his class. He was presented with the Belt and Sword of Honour by the reviewing officer, Viscount [General] Montgomery.

After commissioning, he was given command of the Canadian Army Tank Training Squadron. This unit was responsible for the training of all new recruits and Canadian units converting to the Armour Corps. In addition, the unit also carried out special training on secret weapons for armoured units, which was conducted at the Lulworth and Bovington military facilities.

By the time the invasion of Normandy occurred in June 1944, he was back with the South Alberta Regiment and would participate in every major campaign from Normandy, through Belgium, Holland and Germany. As a result of a tank engagement, Danny was awarded the Military Cross [MC] for bravery in action.. After hostilities in Europe ended, he was posted to Vernon and Naniamo, British Columbia to organize the Armoured element for the Canadian Army about to join the USA military force on the Pacific front.

In 1949, Captain McLeod was posted to the Lord Strathcona’s Horse [RC]. A year later he was promoted to Major and moved to the Tactics Squadron of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps at Camp Borden. It was there that he conducted the Senior Officers’ Course and commanded the Officer Candidate Squadron, which selected officers for duty in Korea.

Throughout the years after the Second World War, Major McLeod participated in and organized numerous sporting activities. His genuine love for sports is exemplified in his efforts while stationed at Canadian Army NATO Forces Europe between 1957 and 1960. During this period he organized and carried out the hosting of numerous professional hockey teams during their European tours.

Upon his return from Europe, "The Major" was posted to the Royal Military College of Canada where he established a highly respected and innovative Athletics program. Once the RMC became a degree granting institution, he directed the establishment of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union [CIAU].

In addition to this work, Major McLeod simultaneously coached the RMC hockey team, the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League [OHL], and the Kingston Senior A "Aces" hockey team. During that period the Kingston Aces represented Canada at the Spangler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, and made two appearances in the Allan Cup play-offs. For his leadership with the Frontenacs, the OHL named him Coach of the Year on two separate occasions. He was one of inaugural members to be inducted into the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame.

In recognition of all he had done for the Royal Military College of Canada, Major McLeod was made a honourary member of the graduating Class of 1970. He is also a honourary member of the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada. RMC have further honoured him by granting him an Honouary PhD [Doctor of Military Science] in 2004.

After retiring from the Canadian Forces in 1970, Major McLeod became a Supervisor of Officials with the National Hockey League. That involved the training of referees and linesmen, including those European officials who took part in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

Besides his commitment to sports, Major McLeod has been heavily involved in the Veteran’s community. He was instrumental in having the Regimental Wartime History of the South Alberta Regiment completed and published. As well, he has organized numerous tours of Canadian battlefields and War Cemeteries in Europe ? the latest one being in the Spring 2007.

In short, Major WJ "Danny" McLeod has experienced an extraordinary life during which he conducted himself with courage and distinction. His extensive accomplishments in his military and civilian careers are exemplary. His abilities to make the best of the opportunities that life has presented him and fulfill his duties beyond expectations are indeed admirable. However, even after reviewing all of his achievements, probably the most important contribution that Danny has made to Canada is his ability to teach and share his passion for excellence, - on the battlefield - on the sports field - and in life. Danny has set the example and inspired others to follow.

The NHL Officials Association would like to congratulate Major W.J. McLeod on being selected the 2007 Birchall Leadership Award recipient. Way to go "Danny".

For more informaition on Tickets for the Leadership Awards Dinner, to be held on November 23rd in Toronto, please visit -