College Hockey Realignment: Notre Dame Hockey May Already Have TV Contract With NBC Sports Network

ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 07: Calle Ridderwall #22 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish congratulates Jake Hendrickson #15 of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs during semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Men's Frozen Four on April 7, 2011 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 4-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

If this is true, then my excitement level for Notre Dame hockey moving to Hockey East just got taken down a notch. From the Eagle-Tribune's Mike McMahon:

"Notre Dame's decision was based largely on television. Soon, each conference in the country will announce its own television deal with NBC Sports Network (what Versus will turn into in January) to air college hockey games nationally. Notre Dame has reached its own agreement with NBC Sports to air its games, separately from the conference contract.

The NCHC, according to sources, was reluctant to go along with Notre Dame's television wishes."

Bertagna extending an invite to the Irish along with its own new, shiny TV contract wouldn't exactly be the best thing for Hockey East in the long run. This would create a Texas Longhorn Network-like set of circumstances that was in no small part responsible for the temporary destabilization of the Big 12.

The thing is ... Notre Dame hockey isn't Texas football, and hasn't exactly earned the right on the ice to deserve such preferential treatment. This is nothing more than the Irish cashing in on its football history and national popularity and extending that brand to its men's ice hockey program. While I respect the move from a business standpoint, I can't imagine programs like Boston University (5 National titles), Boston College (4), Maine (2) and New Hampshire (...) can be too thrilled about Notre Dame landing its own TV contract on the network formerly known as Versus. 

If Bertagna doesn't get anything in return in negotations with Notre Dame, and all Irish games are televised on NBC Sports Network while only a select number of other HEA games are televised, I'd just as soon watch Hockey East let Notre Dame hockey twist in the wind. The Irish would then have to either pursue hockey independence, try to rebuild the CCHA, join the WCHA or swallow its pride and become an all-sports member of the Big Ten. 

Knowing how Hockey East operates, however, I'm sure they'd just as soon cater to Notre Dame to get the Irish into the fold and get just a few of the league's games on NBC Sports Network.

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