Thursday, July 14, 2011

College hockey — just got tougher

So "The National" it is (sounds liket that's already what some are calling the National Collegiate Hockey Conference). College hockey's newest conference has some work to do now (including a little better PR/event management), although it will have to be done while its teams continue to be upstanding members of the WCHA and the CCHA over the next two seasons.

Meanwhile, the leftovers int hose leagues have a lot of work to do to try to figure out their future. As Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman said earlier this week, representatives from the WCHA schools will meet Friday in the Twin Cities to start planning, and in a statement released Wednesday, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said they have "a short-term plan that we will implement immediately." Curious to see how immediate "immediately" actually is.

It looks like Northern Michigan is already making efforts to get back into the WCHA and Alaska-Anchorage athletic director Steve Cobb said an expansion announcement will come on Friday. There are reports that there have been no talks of a WCHA-CCHA merger, but it seems like the WCHA would be better off with eight teams instead of six. Who could the other teams be? Alaska (Fairbanks) still seems like a possibility.

Back to the NCHC, here are some links to yesterday's coverage, the best of which came from the post-press conference interview sessions:

The Grand Forks Herald's Brad Schlossman gets more reasons for the breakaway, including this quote from Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph: "We’re with schools that have a burning desire to win a national championship. They are willing to fund their programs to that level, staff to that level and build facilities to support that. From that perspective, it’s very exciting.” Added North Dakota AD Brian Faison: “(Each of the emaining WCHA teams) has some of those things at different levels of their programs. This is a combination that provides the best opportunity to continue furthering UND’s hockey program."

In Kevin Pates' coverage in the Duluth News Tribune, former UMD coach Mike Sertich was tracked down and said it appears the NCHC has abandoned other teams: “It is so hard to see a piece of history changed. I have very mixed emotions over all of this. I understand the reasons, but I feel for the ones left behind. We asked so much of these programs before admitting them to the WCHA and now it seems as though we have abandoned them. While I am happy for UMD, I feel saddened for teams like Bemidji State, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State-Mankato and Michigan Tech."

Officials from the NCHC didn't say much regarding the many rumors of their dissatisfaction with WCHA leadership but Faison did try to debunk the notion that the teams had voted to stay together during last April's meetings. Still, the Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot is reporting that there was at least talk (but no action) on removing McLeod as commissioner, and that some schools proposed levying heavy fines to teams that left the WCHA (the motion was eventually withdrawn).


MSUMaverickFan said...

Been doing a bit of thinking on how much this new conference will really affect recruiting.

Consider this: Of the schools in the breakaway conference, which ones were MSU really in direct competition with recruiting wise? I'm not sure we were winning recruiting battles with ANY of them. I'd certainly give the edge to UND, DU, Miami, UMD, CC and now, with Blais at the helm, UNO.

There will be a certain segment of top end players who find their way into the super conference or the Big Ten conference. In other words, the same elite players will continue to shuffle into the same top tier institutions. So what's left in the recruiting pool? The same caliber players we've always landed! The new conferences merely segregate and consolidate the top tier universities. Their recruiting power will not necessarily benefit from the realignment.

In fact, their recruiting power may suffer. Throw a bunch of top dogs in the same pen they'll likely fight to the death. Eventually, in the new conference, a pecking order will be established, and I'd contend that each NCHC member school can't really fly any higher than they are now.

With the elite powers all shacked up together, it will open the door for a few midwest institutions to thrive outside of the NCHC. There will be more wins to be had, and a new pecking order in the WCHA will be established. I can't stress how important it will be to win games in the early going. MSU MUST establish itself as a power in the new WCHA. There's no other option. I for one could get used to watching winning hockey again in Mankato.

Todd said...

The biggest position you can recruit in order to win a championship at any level? GOALIE!!! MSU has two good ones for the next two years already. When Cook leaves, it will be imperative to find another good one with the new WCHA. Next biggest position: SNIPER!!! They looked to have one in Pitlick, but he wasn't a college kind of guy. Hopefully Grant can pick that up in year two and rule the WCHA during his senior year.

I agree with the first guy: if they win, people will come, and this time, they'll be more MSU fans and less of the visitors coming from U of M TC or U W Madison. How sickening it is to see all those jerseys in the crowd at home, but it is fun to see them at U of M TC when on the road. Also, this could be the time when they start to get more bigger-named teams from eastern conferences come to town rather than seeing the same-old think-our-poop-don't-stink-right-now NCHC schools.

hockeyfan said...

Shane. Heard Youds and Hayes had really good Chicago camp. Youds has signed with Chicago for next yr. Don't know where they will start him in their organization. My guess Rockford. Are you hearing anything on Saks or others?

hockeyfan said...

Oh forgot. Congrats to Youds. Its great to see another player moving on. Hayes will be there next with a great year this year.

walkoff2 said...

I'm an Alaska- Anchorage fan, and the consensus up there is that is good news for a team like UAA because it means more wins. Seems a similar consensus here.

But my argument is this will make it extremely tough to make the NCAA tournament now. I figure only an automatic qualifier will get in to the tournament unless they expand the tourney field.

I feel like,in UAA's case, this is a derserved slap in the face. Sure they'll win more games but gone are the bigger paydays, exposure, prestige, and talent that came in WCHA.

This is just one view, I'm sure it's different for a team in the Lower 48.