We're less than a month away from the start of the 2016-17 season. Ice is going in. Calls have been sent out to WCHA coaches for the annual preseason poll. Teams are practicing two hours a week.
For Minnesota State, concentration is on the upcoming season, even after last week's announcement from the NCHC about expansion.
In my Tuesday Free Press column this week, I argued that Minnesota State needs to press on despite the NCHC's decision not to expand. Mavericks coach Mike Hastings is fond of saying his team — his program — has to get better, no matter how well it's doing. And that mantra remains true.
The NCHC, which always had the option to not expand, no matter how attractive the applicants, didn't appear to close the door completely on adding teams in the future. But also, MSU is in a conference, the WCHA, and needs to be a leader in the evolution of that league, especially considering the league's financial issues, the tenuous outlook for the Alaska schools and other changes that might be coming down the road.
Some have suggested that Minnesota State is now in the awkward position of going into the WCHA this season after making it known that it's prepared to leave for another league. I disagree. Isn't it better to have your cards on the table? Isn't it better than what happened five years ago when five teams (then six) announced they were leaving the league almost out of the blue?
In a month, all eyes will be on the ice.