The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs line up before the start of the semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Men's Frozen Four against of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on April 7, 2011 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
If you thought the Big Ten Hockey Conference is bad for college hockey, then you haven't read this proposal. USCHO is reporting that several members of the CCHA and WCHA are in discussions about breaking from their current leagues to form a new college hockey conference.
"A proposal for the first major change to the college hockey conference picture of the post-Big Ten era is circulating, and an accelerated timeline could lead to an agreement within the next two weeks.
Some CCHA and WCHA schools have discussed leaving their conferences for a new league, sources have told USCHO.
The schools include North Dakota, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Colorado College and Nebraska-Omaha from the WCHA and Notre Dame, Miami and possibly Western Michigan from the CCHA, sources indicated."
If this plan actually happens, both the WCHA and the CCHA would be left with just five schools, one fewer than the required minimum to maintain an auto bid to the NCAA Tournament.
This is nothing more than these eight programs looking out for their own best interests, which is exactly what the formation of the BTHC is all about. To their credit, programs like North Dakota aren't being shy about their own motivations here:
"At the end of the day, we have to do what's in the best interest of UND hockey, and that's what we're going to do," Faison told the paper. "It's an emotional decision. It's a business decision."
I certainly don't blame any of these programs for looking to join forces and better their programs and respective conferences, but this proposal leaves the remaining WCHA and CCHA programs in a bit of limbo. Of course, the ten remaining programs could join up to create a 10-team conference that spans Anchorage to Bowling Green. But without a major college program in the conference and with added annual trips to Alaska, this may put some of these programs on shaky financial grounds.
It doesn't look like college hockey realignment will hit Hockey East and the rest of the East Coast, but this is certainly something to keep an eye on. Losing any number of existing Division I-A programs certainly would not be good for the sport.
|New Conf (8)||WCHA (5)||CCHA (5)||Big Ten (6)|
|Denver||Bemidji State||Bowling Green||Michigan State|
|Miami (Ohio)||Michigan Tech||Ferris State||Minnesota|
|Minnesota-Duluth||Minnesota State||Lake Superior||Ohio State|
|Nebraska-Omaha||St. Cloud State||Northern Michigan||Penn State|