Wednesday, May 25, 2016

'Five' thoughts

When writing my Tuesday column earlier this week about the new WCHA playoff format (read it here), it dawned on me that the conference could have kept the well-known Final Five name for its tournament, considering teams need to win five league playoff games to clinch the Broadmoor Trophy.

As I wrote, the name would have been more accurate than its use over the last three years when four teams advanced to the championship weekend and played three games there.

According to WCHA associate commissioner for public relations Matt Hodson, the league did consider keeping the Final Five name for the very same reason I suggested. However, office staff and the conference's 10 schools "felt it was time to rebrand the tournament going into a new era."

"The Final Five is synonymous with a different format and a different time," Hodson said on Wednesday afternoon. "This was the perfect time to make the change."

Going with WCHA Playoffs for the first two rounds of best-of-three play and WCHA Championship for the single title game (all at home sites) may sound generic, but, as Hodson pointed out, they do accentuate the league name — and probably more than the Final Five did.

The new playoff logos include the Broadmoor Trophy in their design. It's a unique trophy (making its debut in 2010, replacing the original trophy) the shape of The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo. The hotel, which included the Broadmoor World Arena, was an early supporter of college hockey and hosted the NCAA tournament 11 times between 1948 and 1969.

It's a nice-looking logo, and, perhaps, the WCHA should so something similar with the MacNaughton Cup in a redesign of the league's everyday logo.

Some other notes from my conversation with Hodson:

• The league is exploring TV coverage options for the WCHA playoffs and "there's interest in at least doing the championship game," Hodson said. There may be challenges with the other rounds taking place at multiple sites, but those games would at least be available on the league's streaming package and through any local TV options (such as Minnesota State's arrangement with Charter.)

• Hodson said viewership on last season was up 7 percent from the previous year.

• The search for a new WCHA women's commissioner is ongoing with hopes of having someone in place at the beginning of August.

• The WCHA women's playoff format is not changing. The league is locked in to doing its Final Face-Off at the University of Minnesota's Ridder Arena for the next two years.

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