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College Hockey:
Scherr, NCHC moving forward on schedule, TV deal, tournament venue

If you haven’t seen, heard or met Jim Scherr in the past three weeks, you haven’t been paying much attention to Division I hockey.

The former United States Olympic Committee chief executive officer, announced as the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s first commissioner on Jan. 4, has hit the airwaves for more than 15 TV and radio interviews.

Mix in meetings with U.S. Olympic, NCAA and other hockey officials at the recent NCAA meetings, and “more than 30″ potential applicants contacting Scherr about the league’s hockey operations director position, and it was no surprise his cell phone buzzed twice during a 15-minute interview on Thursday.

The 4 1/2-year contract he signed has made him one busy man and the interest in the league from organizations and companies not usually associated with hockey pleases him. He’s using his extensive contacts within amateur sports, especially the U.S. Olympic movement, to generate new potential partnerships with the new league.

All that legwork and recent NCHC meetings has the eight-school league close to putting together its first conference schedule — likely a 24-game slate with 10 nonleague dates — for when play begins with the 2013-14 season.

“We’re close on scheduling and hopefully we’ll be ready to make an announcement next week,” he said.

A “major announcement” concerning a national TV package — reportedly being negotiated with CBS, Fox and NBC — is soon to follow, along with a decision on a postseason venue.

The leading venue in that regard is rumored to be the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., which is the current tournament home for the WCHA.

The NCHC’s founding members are Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota. St. Cloud State and Western Michigan joined on Sept. 22, 2011. The Colorado Springs-based conference announced its formation on July 13, 2011.

The summer and fall of conference realignments were sparked by Penn State’s new Division I program, which prompted the other Big Ten schools to form a six-team conference that also begins play in 2013. That league will include PSU, current WCHA members Minnesota and Wisconsin and CCHA schools Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.

With Notre Dame headed to Hockey East, the WCHA will absorb the remainder of the depleted CCHA, which will dissolve after the 2012-13 season.

A job opening announcement for the league hockey operations director, a position some fans are concerned about because of Scherr’s limited experience in that regard, has yet to be released but the position has attracted more than 30 “very good” candidates, Scherr said.

“It’s really a testament to the prospects for the conference, the work the athletic directors have done and the strength of the schools in the conference,” Scherr said. “We’ve had a large amount of interest without putting any job opening notice out on the market.”

Scherr served as USOC CEO from 2003 to 2009, when he dealt directly with USA Hockey, and spent 11 years as executive director for USA Wrestling and three as Chief of Sport Performance (2000-03).

In addition to all the big-picture deals and jobs, the everyday operations are starting to come together. Work continues on hiring an office staff, developing a public relations platform and marketing strategy with a soon-to-be hired PR/media director and securing sponsors.

The league has hired a construction company to refurbish the league’s offices provided by the El Pomar Foundation of Colorado Springs in the Copper Building near The Broadmoor Hotel. Scherr hopes to be settled into his office by mid-February.

Until then, he’s working from his home office and using his cell phone and laptop to field calls and emails in between meetings in coffee shops and board rooms. He’s learning about college hockey and the people who are its biggest advocates.

“I’ve found out there’s a lot of paperwork to starting up a league,” Scherr said with a smile. “It’s also reinforced what I already knew. This is a close-knit sport. The people who follow it are passionate about it. You can’t ask for more than that.”


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  • Slick Ice

    Thier tournament can be nicknamed the “Empty X”

    • Conibear

      Must be a rodent fan. The Goofs haven’t been to the X in years, place hasn’t been empty for what were essentially a pre NCHC tourneys.

      • UofMGoldenChokers

        You hit it right on the head. Couldnt have said it better myself!

      • Phoney

        9 in a row and then miss 2 is hardly “Years”. Check the standings folks, who is in first.

        • John46

          U’ll be the 1st to choke, that is for sure!

        • umdtke5

          Um…years: plural of year, as in more than one. 2>1
          “years” is perfectly acceptable in this context.

  • Bob

    There will be plenty of fans from North Dakota and Minnesota to keep the building full regardless of who is playing. Plus, it certainly won’t be emptier than Joe Louis Arena has been the past several years for the CCHA tourney. As a Miami fan, I see this as a significant upgrade in terms of the conference tournament atmosphere.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed, as much as I would love to see it rotate and be held in a city like Chicago every now and then to promote the conference and to help grow the sport, that isn’t the primary responsibility of the NCHC.  Their job is to generate revenue for the league so the Xcel center is probably the most ideal.

  • Guest

    it won’t be empty but it won’t be full either. 

  • Anonymous

    I think its nutty to have your conference tournament in the “same” town as a WCHA defector, which is the reason the NCHC basically “had” to come into existence. It should not be held in the Twin Cities just on general principles. My vote is rotating it around to Denver and Omaha, at the very least, and perhaps some other list of choices including maybe, perhaps, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, heck, maybe even Des Moines. Since the CCHA has Detroit, I’d nix them. I’d like to see the NCHC go out of their way NOT to have it in Twin Cities, frankly (sorry, St Cloud). Is this not obvious? I mean, am I wrong here? Why should the NCHC do anything for a metro area that houses a team that is home of one of the “causers” of the “problem” whether it is their fault, or not?

    • Fan Man

      As a Sioux fan,(minneapolis) I am not that much against seeing the tourny held at the Xcel.  Although, I wouldnt mind going to the Pepsi Center every other year!  I will not however go to Nebraska

      • Anonymous

        Why not? It is a venue that seats 16,680 for hockey and Omaha has an outstanding hockey legacy and an unprecedented history hosting NCAA events, like every College World Series since 1950, for example just for starters. Plus, it’s centrally located to ALL the member schools. More so that other other city on my list, save, maybe, Des Moines.

        • Fan Man

          You make a good point but u did compare hockey to baseball…. Nebraska does not have a hockey history like u mentioned! Besides the Lancers and Blaise, nothing worth seeing hockey wise is there…

          • Anonymous

            I’m not sure what your comments that I assume are about Omaha itself mean. The Lancers are by far the most successful USHL franchise of all time. It isn’t even a contest. By about any measure, they are considered to be the Montreal Canadians of Junior Hockey in the United States. I mean, we are talking about a Junior League team that sold out 241 consecutive games in a row in an arena serting 6,124!  Almost a decade worth of sellouts. Maybe 4 or 5 college teams draw anywhere near that well.

            This article is a little dated (since the “new” Knights did NOT make it like the article hypothesized) but Omaha has a very good hockey legacy going clear back to 1939, the “old” Knights first season in Omaha:

            http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/17549367/from/ET/

            Gordie Howe’s career started in Omaha for crying out loud.

            Omaha has 3 hockey venues that seat 6,700, 8,314, & 16,680, respectively. UNO sold out 131 consecutive games (EVERY game they ever played in the Civic Auditorium, capacity 8,314–6 years worth) before they moved into what is now known as the Centurylink Center.

            What, exactly, is it that Omaha is lacking in as far as some sort of hockey legacy is concerned? What constitutes “hockey history” in your mind? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Jdhockeyboyz

      The upstart league needs revenue and the assurance of putting on a first class tourney.  St. Paul is a great hockey town and locals will support the show even if the Gophers aren’t part of it.  The X has a proven record of hosting college and  prep tournaments in style.  That said, Denver would seem a natural site but no sure bet for good attendance. I’m a big fan of college hockey, but realistic of the fact that hockey is still kind of a fringe sport.  NCHS doesn’t want their first tourney to play to empty seats. 

  • Hotspurs

    I’ve been a college hockey fan for 35 years. I hate what has happened to the CCHA and WCHA. And I Iive in Boston. In my opinion one of the great aspects of college hockey was that it was immune to the big money that rules college football and bball. Then the Big 10, 11 or 12, whatever it’s called now ruined that for the sake of needing programming for it’s network. It’s a damn damn shame. I hate the loss of the longstanding rivalries. The eastern leagues have been relatively untouched by this turmoil and I hope that continues.

    • BulldogFan

      There’s part of me the wonders in a few years if BU, BC, Notre Dame, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont find a couple other schools and do the same thing out east.  Not saying its going to happen but it would not shock me.

  • http://twitter.com/Butterz07 Aaron G.

    North Dakota fans fill up the excel every year so ppl need to relax   i say welcome to miami and wesern mich     welcome to your doom LOL LOL

  • uhoheywayne

    @d53c59b2b5095b9cc1c70e5279a76c02:disqus
    It’s a absolute DISGRACE for the Gophs to miss any Final Fives.  Get a clue.  They deserve to be ridiculed.  We’ll see if they can beat AKA or whomever to get there this year.  But there’s always Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAAs if they don’t make the 5 again.

  • Joe

    It would be nice to pay the El Pomar folks back by having it in the World Arena every once in a while. The whole point of a tournament is to go someplace nice (the Springs is actually pretty warm in March, but you can still go ski in the mountains) and make a few bucks besides. I like the rotating idea much better than trying to recreate the Final Five. Columbus, Chicago, Xcel, Omaha, Denver and the Springs are all decent venues.

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