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  • Michael Whan, Hockey, the LPGA, and His Connection to Jonathan Ward

    27 Oct 2009

    By Ryan Ballengee

    Multiple magazines and websites are reporting that Michael Whan will be introduced as the 8th commissioner of the LPGA Tour at a 9am press conference at Madison Square Garden.  Currently, Whan serves as the CEO of Mission-ITECH Hockey. 

    Mission and ITECH merged together in 2004.  Mission Hockey was considered a leader in roller hockey and ITECH was a specialist in protective hockey gear.  The combined organization had roots in both California and Montreal, Canada.  In the transaction, Whan was elevated from CEO of Mission to boss of the combined company.


    Photo: The new LPGA Commissioner (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

    The company continued for four years when, in late 2008, Mission-ITECH was purchased by Bauer Hockey.  Facilities in New York and Quebec were closed in May 2009 as part of the acquisition.  140 jobs were to be lost in the process.

    At the time of the announced acquisiton, Whan said, "Consolidation is essential for the long-term success of the overall hockey industry. [The companies'] combined commitment will only help increase the overall health of the industry and of the sport itself."

    Reports from hockey insiders indicated that Bauer was interested in Mission-ITECH's protective gear products for goalies. The brand was to be removed and all Mission-ITECH products would be rebranded as Bauer.

    Earlier in the same year, Bauer Hockey was purchased from its owner Nike for some $200 million by Kohlberg and Company.

    Kohlberg and Company is the current employer of Jonathan Ward, a man thought to be a serious candidate for the LPGA commissioner position.

    That's where the known facts end.  It is not difficult to make inferences about the financial strength of Bauer after its acquisition of Mission-ITECH in a floundering economy.  Perhaps Whan's job security was in question and, given that, Kohlberg and Company made the connection between Whan, his golf experience at TaylorMade-adidas & Wilson Golf, and the open position for the LPGA commissionership.

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