CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. - Following an expansive national search, ECAC Hockey announced Tuesday the hiring of Doug Christiansen as the league's new Commissioner. The announcement comes with the retirement of long-time ECAC Hockey Commissioner Steve Hagwell at the end of the month.
Christiansen is a seasoned hockey professional, serving in a range of roles over the past two decades, including player, coach, general manager, administrator, advisor and speaker. A proven leader, he will bring a wealth of experience, a growth mindset and a vast network to ECAC Hockey.
“Doug impressed the Search Committee with his energy and plans to capitalize on the strengths of our league,” said Sarah Fraser, incoming ECAC Hockey Executive Committee Chair and Deputy Director of Athletics/SWA at Quinnipiac University. “He is well connected in the sport of hockey, and will be able to engage with external constituents as easily as he will with our coaches and administrators. His familiarity with ECAC Hockey and his previous involvement with the entire ecosystem of the sport will be a true benefit to our membership and student-athletes.”
The hiring marks a return to ECAC Hockey for Christiansen who competed for four seasons on the men’s hockey team at Union College (1998-02). The Wisconsin native most recently served as Deputy Commissioner of the United States Hockey League (USHL) where he oversaw USHL Hockey operations and properties and served as the primary point of contact for USA Hockey, NHL Central Scouting, and media entities.
“I am honored to be chosen by the ECAC Hockey membership to be their next Commissioner at this transformational time in college hockey,” said Christiansen. “ECAC Hockey is home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities and our Conference has the potential to lead the way into this next stage of college hockey. I intend to raise the profile of the ECAC Hockey brand in the era of Name, Image and Likeness and the transfer portal. Prospective student-athletes have the opportunity to make a decision that will define the next forty years of their life in a positive way. I want to help simplify and amplify that message in a way that coaches and administrators can use to attract and retain some of the best student-athletes in the world.”
Player development has been the cornerstone of Christiansen’s career with roles that have consistently placed him at the forefront of the ever-changing hockey landscape. He is currently a member of the USA Hockey Junior Council, which oversees Junior Hockey in the United States, and has spearheaded a series of collaborative initiatives with the NHL focused on DEI, mental health and player safety.
During his time with the USHL, Christiansen presented at the NHL Leadership Summit and has spoken to over 18,000 players, coaches, advisors and parents. As the new face of ECAC Hockey, Christiansen is well-prepared to raise the profile of the Conference through targeted speaking engagements, creative social media campaigns and strategic partnerships.
“As a passionate ECAC Hockey alum, I am excited to promote the benefits of competing in ECAC Hockey – both on and off the ice – and I’m confident that we will have the resources and thought-leadership to build upon an already strong foundation laid by Steve Hagwell,” said Christiansen. “I am excited about generating new revenue to enhance the experience for the student-athletes as they work toward winning National Championships in Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey.”
He added, “I have seen first-hand how a league office can highlight the great work of coaches and players and I intend to bring that experience to ECAC Hockey. I look forward to using my experience and network in partnership with our presidents, coaches, and athletic directors to shape the future of the ECAC Hockey brand and accentuate our collective strengths.”
In addition to an earlier stint in the USHL as Director of Player Development and Recruitment (2014-18), Christiansen spent four seasons (2018-2022) as a General Manager and Head Coach in the ECHL, beginning with the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings) followed by three seasons with the Indy Fuel (Chicago Blackhawks).
Following his professional hockey playing career, Christiansen served as a Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations for seven seasons in the United Kingdom’s Elite League, which included a league championship in 2012, two-time Coach of the Year honors, and an appointment as Head Coach of Team Great Britain for the IIHF World Championships. Perhaps most notably, Christiansen spent three seasons coaching the Belfast Giants and looks forward to returning to Northern Ireland for the Belpot Tournament and Friendship Series.
Christiansen earned his Master's Degree in Sports Business Management from the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelor's Degree at Union College. His family’s ties to league member institutions run deep as his brother, Jeff, was also a hockey player at Union College (2010), his wife, Meghan, was a basketball player at Yale (2003) and his brother-in-law Brian was a basketball player at Harvard (2006). He currently resides in Carmel, Indiana with his wife Meghan and their two children and plans to relocate to the Northeast later this year.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT CHRISTIANSEN
Reid Cashman - Head Men’s Ice Hockey Coach, Dartmouth College - “Doug’s passion for ECAC Hockey was evident throughout the interview process. He shares our belief that ECAC Hockey is the premiere league for the complete student-athlete experience. His experience as an ECAC Hockey student-athlete, professional player and coach, as well as his innovative work on the USHL, sets him up to move our league forward. On behalf of the league’s coaching body, we are excited to welcome Doug as our new Commissioner.”
Steve Metcalf - Commissioner, Hockey East - “Doug is very well respected in hockey circles and is a great choice as the new ECAC Hockey Commissioner. He’ll build upon the great foundation that Steve Hagwell has put in place. I look forward to working with him in his new role.”
Brandon Naurato - Head Men’s Ice Hockey Coach, University of Michigan - “Doug is an innovative leader in the way that he thinks and he’s a stellar communicator that is going to keep ECAC Hockey in the forefront of the sport. Everyone in college hockey wants to collectively grow the game and Doug is someone that will greatly contribute to that cause.”
Kara Radeke - Executive Director, Business Operations, Pittsburgh Penguins - “It has been a pleasure working with Doug over the years. Through his diverse hockey background, he has proven himself as an innovative, action-oriented leader. He will make an immediate impact on the conference. As shown through his coaching career and as Deputy Commissioner of the USHL, Doug will be a strong advocate for the ECAC Hockey student-athletes and coaches, elevating the nationwide profile of the conference.”
Bill Robertson - President and Commissioner, USHL and Former Commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) - “The United States Hockey League is so happy for Doug Christiansen in being named Commissioner of ECAC Hockey. ECAC Hockey is one of the most prestigious college hockey conferences in the nation on both the men’s and women’s side and Doug has history with the league as a former student-athlete at Union College. The USHL prides itself on being a developmental league for players, coaches, support personnel and administrators. The same can be said for the league staff of the USHL as he moves into this important role in college hockey. We wish nothing but the best for Doug and his family moving forward as he did outstanding work as the USHL Deputy Commissioner. He has a bright future ahead working in the collegiate athletic space.”
Mel Ruzzi - Head Coach, Brown Women’s Ice Hockey - “Doug knows firsthand what it is like to compete as a student-athlete in our league and I look forward to seeing what our league can accomplish under the leadership of someone with so much experience as both a coach and administrator. Our women’s student-athletes have thrived on the national and international stages and we are excited to expand that success with Doug at the helm.”
Mike Snee - Executive Director, College Hockey, Inc. - “Doug Christiansen is an excellent choice to be the next commissioner of ECAC Hockey. Doug’s vast network in the sport touches all levels of hockey and spans the entire hockey playing world. His unique blend of coaching and administrative leadership roles as well as being a former student-athlete in the conference will serve him well as he will truly understand the perspective of all involved in ECAC Hockey. All of us at College Hockey Inc. are looking forward to working with Doug.”
Kevin Westgarth - VP Hockey Development & Strategic Collaboration, NHL - "I am thrilled for both Doug Christiansen and ECAC Hockey to hear he will soon be taking the reins as Commissioner. Doug has exceptional leadership qualities, deep hockey knowledge, and an unwavering dedication to the game that make him the perfect fit for this role. Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of working with Doug and witnessing his passion for hockey firsthand. And, I am confident that under his guidance, ECAC Hockey will flourish and build upon the great work of the member schools and outgoing Commissioner Hagwell."