College Hockey:
The CCHA is going away, but its history will have a final resting place

Congratulations to the Miami RedHawks, the last regular season champions of the CCHA! Ever!

After losing 3-0 to Ohio State at home Friday, the RedHawks rebounded with a < a href=”http://www.uscho.com/recaps/2013/03/02/miami-wins-fourth-ccha-title-on-senior-night-doubling-ohio-state-4-2/”>4-2 win over the Buckeyes on Saturday. It was a victory that was never really in question; the RedHawks were ahead 4-0 at the 15:50 mark of the third period.

“I don’t want to be sentimental at this point in the season,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said after the game, “because there’s still so much hockey to be played, but it’s a big deal. We can say that we won the last one.

“I’m sad that the CCHA’s going away, but everyone had to make a decision for the best interest of their programs, including Ohio State and Miami. It just so happens that we have to put an end to it.”

We have to put an end to it. Indeed, sadly.

My favorite quote of the night was something senior Curtis McKenzie said. “The trophy’s ours forever now,” he said. Technically, no. (See below.)

Metaphorically, I’ll give you that.

McKenzie’s classmate and team captain, Steven Spinell, said what really needed to be said.

“Of course it’s a huge honor to win the league championship,” Spinell said, “but we have bigger aspirations to come here.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if Spinell’s words weren’t a bit prophetic. I hear Pittsburgh is nice in early April.

A tale of three commissioners

It’s only Tuesday as I write this, and already it’s been a long, strange week. I didn’t realize that this week’s column would be all about the commissioners — three of them, anyway — but sometimes the stories unfold in surprising ways.

The current guy at the helm

The last regular-season weekend of play brought us one week closer to the end of the CCHA for good. Commissioner Fred Pletsch said that it’s difficult to think about the eventuality because this is the busiest time of year for the conference.

“March 25,” Pletsch said, “I’ll be looking for a job.”

I caught up with Pletsch as he was driving to Oxford, Ohio, to deliver the regular season trophy to the RedHawks.

“We’ll let them have it for a year,” joked Pletsch, who had read what McKenzie said after Saturday’s win.

That unnamed trophy along with two others eventually will reside permanently at Bowling Green. When the CCHA ends, it’s not just a matter of the league going away; the CCHA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation and as such, its assets must be accounted for when it is dissolved.

To satisfy the state of Michigan’s terms of nonprofit dissolution, some of the corporation’s records must be stored for a period of up to 10 years. That’s where Bowling Green comes in.

“Bowling Green, as an original charter member of the CCHA, has volunteered to do that,” Pletsch said. “Their plan is to create a CCHA display.”

In addition to storing documents that need to hang around for legal reasons, Bowling Green has agreed to take some of the CCHA’s artifacts. While the university hasn’t solidified where it will house the display, some of what will be enshrined already has been identified.

In addition to the regular-season trophy, BGSU will also keep and display the Mason Cup and the Bill Beagan Trophy. The Mason Cup is named after legendary Michigan State coach Ron Mason and is awarded to the CCHA playoff champions; the Bill Beagan Trophy is named after the man who served as league commissioner from 1985 to 1998 and is given to the playoff tournament MVP.

“I’ve also offered them the 45-foot mural of the history of the CCHA,” Pletsch said. Those familiar with the league’s annual Fan Fest in Detroit have probably seen the mural. Pletsch said that the league is getting the final panel for the mural made and that panel will depict where each of the 11 current CCHA teams will go after this season ends.

The Mason Cup that will reside at BGSU — the one that teams have received since 2002 — is a replica of the original. According to Pletsch, that original was “smashed to bits” one night in 2001. The story of the trophy’s undoing is told by Ron Mason himself in the video of the history of the CCHA that the league is making, a video that will be shown at the league’s Celebrate the Legacy party in the COBO Center in Detroit the Saturday night of the CCHA tournament. Said Pletsch of Mason, “He doesn’t admit that there was alcohol involved.”

The original Mason Cup will go to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The Hall of Fame has actively pursued CCHA artifacts for a display it intends to build that will include a video of the telecast of the final championship game.

“They’re actually going to have a representative at the championship,” Pletsch said. “They want the stick from the kid who scores the final goal and the game-winning puck.”

The league has more than just paperwork and artifacts with which to contend. The CCHA has a reserve fund that is worth in excess of $1 million. That money is in place to handle unexpected expenses and, once the corporation is dissolved, will be given equally to each of the league’s member schools.

“I’m expecting that’s how it works,” Pletsch said. “All the assets have to be distributed.”

You want a piece of the CCHA for yourself? Don’t worry. There will be plenty available throughout the CCHA championship tournament weekend in Detroit. Pletsch said that the league has everything from a 30-foot banner of former Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg to CCHA watches from the mid-1990s.

“We’re always finding things” while going through the offices, Pletsch said.

Me, I hope to find a replacement for my original CCHA sweatshirt, the one that I finally ripped beyond repair and stopped wearing about five years ago. Or another CCHA backpack, since mine is ripped.

I guess coming apart at the seams is another unexpected theme this week.

The gent known as The Commish

One of my favorite CCHA stories ever is one about former Lake Superior State coach Frank Anzalone, told by former commissioner Bill Beagan. Well, it’s not so much the story, but the punch line is worth it.

The CCHA coaches were at an annual meeting in Ann Arbor, when the league offices were located there. The specifics of the discussion are irrelevant. In the meeting, though, coaches from around the league were offering assistance to Anzalone, whose reputation for being difficult is widespread. I prefer to think of Anzalone as misunderstood. Incidentally, so does Anzalone.

Anyway, coaches were offering assistance and Anzalone was stubbornly refusing it. The punch line comes from Beagan himself, who in frustration told Anzalone, “Frank, you’re the only man I know who’d like to die in his own arms.”

I don’t know if that line is a completely accurate portrait of Anzalone, but I do know that it’s pure, vintage Beagan.

This week, The Commish emailed me a letter that he’d previously emailed to John Tuohey of FSN Detroit. To be honest, I’d received the letter last week via a third party, but this time Beagan it emailed to me as well.

It is not a happy letter. Not at all.

In it, Beagan likened the CCHA to the RMS Titanic and its commissioner at the time of the announcement of the formation of the Big Ten hockey conference, Michigan State coach Tom Anastos, to Captain Edward Smith. Beagan’s take on the end of the league is that it didn’t have to happen, that had some planning and foresight occurred the CCHA would remain intact — much like the Titanic could have avoided disaster had Smith heeded warnings about icebergs.

Beagan ended his letter with this: “Sadly, and unlike the RMS Titanic, there will be no movies, books, folk songs or memorials established to memorialize the once-proud CCHA, only an obituary which should read: ‘It didn’t have to happen.’”

I can understand Beagan’s disappointment, certainly. As commissioner of the CCHA, Beagan did much to heighten the profile of college hockey during his tenure from 1985 to 1998, especially in terms of recognizing the importance of televising the game. He did a lot, too, to promote college hockey as a legitimate path to the NHL.

As I have written repeatedly, I am saddened by the end of the CCHA. Unlike Beagan, however, I do not see Anastos as someone to be vilified. While I said at the time that I was a bit jolted by the timing of Anastos’ resignation as CCHA commissioner, I cannot fault the man for doing what he thought was best for himself, his family and even his alma mater. Tom Anastos is not the villain in the story of the ending of the CCHA.

In fact, there is no villain. I hate to disagree with my old friend The Commish — a man of whom I am personally very fond and one who has earned my unending respect — but sometimes things just happen. When Penn State announced its decision to join the ranks of Division I hockey, that forced Big Ten hockey into existence. While I wasn’t happy with the speed of Miami’s departure from the CCHA nor with Western Michigan’s immediate solicitation of other conferences, I did then and do still respect each program’s right to be self determining, as much as any Division I team can be.

During the months following the announcement of Big Ten hockey, Pletsch was criticized for what people perceived to be his inaction in regard to keeping the CCHA together. I talked with Pletsch several times during that period, and from our discussions, it was clear that the fate of the league lay with its member teams. Not to pile on the RedHawks, but once Miami decided to leave the conference, the conference was destabilized; people associated with individual programs needed to make decisions best for those individual programs. From what I can tell, every program did what it could to make the best of the situation.

Most of Beagan’s letter is about how planning could have saved the CCHA in some form, but I’m not sure at all that anything could have done so. The league doesn’t exist in hockey vacuum and there are factors beyond what the average fan can see that affected everything about the break-up of the CCHA — and everything about its decision to deny Alabama-Huntsville admission prior to that, and I do not see the two as unrelated.

Beagan isn’t the average fan. His disappointment is understandable. The CCHA was his baby for a long time and he helped it grow into something formidable in the world of hockey.

Beagan was the commissioner of the CCHA, but he wasn’t the commissioner of the CCHA when Big Ten hockey arrived. As mighty a man as he is, I don’t believe that even the great Bill Beagan could have saved the CCHA.

That other guy in between

While covering the Western Michigan-Michigan State game Saturday night, my good friend and hockey writer extraordinaire, Neil Koepke, told me about an interesting rumor that was making the rounds in East Lansing. As many as 20 fans, Koepke said, approached him while he was on the concourse during the game and asked him if it was true that Anastos intended to step down as coach at Michigan State to become the new commissioner of Big Ten hockey.

Um, what?

Koepke brought this up in the postgame news conference, which gave everyone a big laugh. First of all, there will be no commissioner of Big Ten hockey. The Big Ten itself has a commissioner, Jim Delany. He will have someone working under him, I’m sure, who oversees hockey, but there will be no Big Ten hockey commissioner.

Second … um, what? There is no earthly reason for Anastos to leave his job. When he heard the rumor, he jokingly asked, “How much does it pay?” He also mused about the greater control over scheduling he’d have.

Anastos isn’t going anywhere. As for that rumor, Koepke said that the concerned MSU fans who brought this to his attention claimed they’d heard it on the radio.

Officially speaking

There were some interesting doings regarding officiating around the CCHA last weekend. In the overtime period of the 1-1 tie between Ferris State and Michigan Saturday night, the Bulldogs had seven men on the ice at one point, the extra attacker in place of goaltender CJ Motte and, well, an extra extra attacker.

The officials missed the too-many-men call, but there was no harm done — and there would have been no harm done even if FSU had “scored.” Pletsch told me that director of officials Steve Piotrowski assured him that a goal in that situation would’ve been disallowed after review.

Yes, Michigan’s chance of securing home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs was on the line in that overtime. Yes, Michigan should have earned more points earlier in the season so as not to have to depend on the last regular season game for the points it needed to secure home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

Down the road on Saturday night, late in the third period of Michigan State’s gritty 1-0 win over Western Michigan, the Broncos were fighting for position among the top three teams in the league. Before the last game of the season, WMU was two points behind first-place Miami. Every point mattered, without question.

With 1:40 remaining in regulation, Dennis Brown fired from near the MSU blue line and the puck went into the net. His teammate, Dane Walters, was in the crease as the puck crossed the line. I watched this video repeatedly. Walters was in the crease. He was not pushed there by a Spartans player. The goal was disallowed and it was the right call.

Yes, the Broncos had a beef about the fact that the call wasn’t reviewed. Yes, the Broncos should have scored more goals earlier in the game so as not to have to rely on the power play with goaltender Frank Slubowski pulled for a two-man advantage to score on the league’s last-place team. And — yes, like the Wolverines — the Broncos had opportunities earlier in the season to earn more points.

When officiating is an issue, complain. When it’s a non-issue — and when your team hasn’t done enough itself to steer its own destiny — don’t.

And speaking of officials, one of the lingering questions I have as the CCHA prepares to dissolve is about the on-ice officials. What’s going to happen to them? No one has been contacted about officiating anywhere next season, which in a way is understandable because the realignment requires some rethinking about geography and officials’ league affiliations.

I did talk to Pletsch about this during our chat on his drive to Oxford. Piotrowski has been tabbed by the Big Ten to be the coordinator of men’s ice hockey officials for the conference, but Piotrowski can take only so many guys with him. “With six teams in the Big Ten,” Pletsch said, “he’s not going to need as big a staff.”

So what about the rest of the guys? Well, there’s great overlap of conference territory in Michigan and Ohio, states in which many of the CCHA’s on-ice officials live. There are rules regulating how many games an official can work within a given league before he becomes affiliated with that league. I wonder how college hockey will adapt to its new landscape regarding on-ice officials.

The officials wonder too, I’m sure. These are guys with lives. I do hope that decisions are made quickly after the current season ends so that the CCHA guys in stripes know where they’ll be skating next season.

Players of the week

This week’s honors are dominated by the young.

Rookie of the week: Michigan goaltender Steve Racine, who had 46 saves in a series against Ferris State, a 4-1 win and 1-1 tie. Racine also stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout, helping the Wolverines earn that extra point. Racine’s season-long numbers are not an indication of how well he’s playing lately; he’s 3-0-1 in his last four contests with a .926 save percentage in that span. It’s the first POTW award for Racine.

Offensive player of the week: Notre Dame freshman forward Mario Lucia. Lucia had two goals an assist in the Irish’s sweep of Bowling Green. Friday night’s marker was the winner, his first of the season. Lucia has 12 goals in 27 games.

Defenseman of the week: Ohio State freshman Craig Dalrymple, who had a goal and two assists in the Buckeyes’ split with Miami. He also blocked six shots against the RedHawks in the series.

Goaltender of the week: Northern Michigan’s Jared Coreau, a junior and the only non-rookie in this week’s honors. Coreau stopped 82 shots in NMU’s split with Lake Superior State, including 50 in Friday’s 3-1 win.

My ballot

1. Minnesota
2. Boston College
3. St. Cloud State
4. Miami
5. New Hampshire
6. Quinnipiac
7. North Dakota
8. Western Michigan
9. Yale
10. Minnesota State
11. Denver
12. Nebraska-Omaha
13. Notre Dame
14. Massachusetts-Lowell
15. Niagara
16. Wisconsin
17. Rensselaer
18. Dartmouth
19. Providence
20. Alaska

More hardware next week

There are more Girl Reporter Awards coming. I’m still researching.

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  • Adam

    ‘Not to pile on the RedHawks…,’ yet you have done so at seemingly every chance you get. Nope, can’t blame the B1G schools one bit- it’s all our fault! It’s all our fault!

    Have fun watching a one-bid league for the next few years. You deserve it.

    • Rtn2GoldCountry

      It is joker. For Minnesota and Wisconsin it was either join the B1G for hockey, or find a new conference for every other sport. NCHC teams just wanted to get in a pissing match about whose conference was best.

    • http://www.facebook.com/davedanis Dave Danis

      How can you blame the Big Ten schools? Once Penn State added hockey, the Big Ten sanctioned the sport. There was NO option for UM, MSU and tOSU to stay in the CCHA. Miami did have a choice. Notre Dame did have a choice. Is flying to Denver or Grand Forks better for Miami hockey than a bus ride to Bowling Green or Ferris? Will CC or UMD put more people in the seats at that amazing arena you have? Only time will tell. I have tremendous respect for Rico and the Red Hawks program. Every trip to Oxford has been memorable. But I think Paula is right on in the article.

      • Adam

        Funny how Paula seems to conveniently forget that Notre Dame was just as active, if not more so, than Miami in joining a new conference. But, no…let’s not let facts get in the way.

      • Kgphil01

        You bring up some very good points. I personally don’t feel that any team in the CCHA is to blame for its demise. The Big10 conference makes perfect sense when you get down to it. Actually I think it would of happened a lot soon if they didn’t have to wait on a sixth team. But I feel that the past several articles have all been insulting Miami and painting them as some villain. Maybe it’s just because that is my alma mater and team but to me it just didn’t seem justified. I’m not trying to attack or call out any team CCHA or Big 10.

        To address your points. I personally feel that with ND, Michigan and OSU out of the CCHA Miami lost its big rivals. Really the only remaining one would have been BG. I think your 100% correct its not going to really add anything to Miami’s program by playing in the NCHC in terms of fans or rivals. However I think Miami may see it as an immediate step up in competition. Whereas the CCHA may struggle a bit to get its footing again. Thanks for the kind words about the Miami program.

      • http://www.facebook.com/seymour.butze.9 Seymour Butze

        If it were Illinois, Indiana, or Purdue that created a D-I program, the CCHA could have survived. The problem was that it was Penn State.

        Penn State has been an ill fit in the Big Ten from the get-go. When talk of a PSU program first started 3-4 years ago, Hockey East started making phone calls right away. And I truly believe they would have ended up there versus the CCHA. PSU-fans feel more identification to the New England region than they do to the Midwest. IMO most PSU fans would have been thrilled to be playing Hockey East schools.

        According to Wisconsin’s AD, them leaving the Big Ten conference has been a worry for a number of years. And many have speculated that the recent addition of Maryland and Rutgers have been as much about appeasing Penn State as securing the new broadcast markets of NYC, New Jersey, Baltimore, & DC. The Big Ten now has a mid-Atlantic presence to complement Penn State’s membership.

        Delany was never going to let Penn State join Hockey East. That could have been the first step in them leaving the conference.

        For my part, I’m happy as I’ll be able to see Big Ten hockey on a regular basis on BTN.

        • Joseph Crowley

          The Big Ten has very specific rules it put into place before Nebraska joined when it was trying yet again to lure Notre Dame. The bylaws were written to make sure that if a member school played in a sport and that sport had at least 6 total schools playing in that sport, the school HAD to play as a full-time Big Ten member. This was to prevent schools from playing in “Olympic” sports like basketball and hockey while having independent affiliations in football.

          It does not matter what Big Ten school was the sixth to add hockey. At that point, ALL Big Ten schools playing hockey have to play in a Big Ten Hockey Conference. They could not stay in WCHA or CCHA. They could not go to Hockey East, ECAC, AHA or NCHC. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State had to go to BTHC and that their RPI with them.

          The only calls Hockey East made (or would have made) would be to South Bend IN, Storrs CT and maybe Oxford OH to look at expanding to 12 members while ensuring that BC/BU stayed in Hockey East (as evidenced by NCHC trying to peel off those schools when it formed).

          Finally, the same thing will happen in women’s hockey when Michigan and Michigan State form their women’s programs. This is long overdue and will have the same effect on the Women’s WCHA. You can guarantee that any OTHER Big Ten school that adds men’s hockey will have to add women’s hockey for Title IX reasons, so it only takes two schools to do so. You might see Maryland and Rutgers do that sooner than the midwest schools.

  • Kgphil01

    You know I have learned over the years to look over little things here and there with the reporting that goes on here. I truly feel that you do have a passion not only for the CCHA but college hockey in general and I thank you for covering the CCHA for all these years. That being said…………..

    The last few weeks have been like reading the wall posts of a 12 year old lover scorned drama queen. I’m sorry that you feel Miami has betrayed “you”. But your attitude and accusations are completely unwarranted. Sticking with the Titanic theme here the Big10 is obviously the iceberg and in this analogy Miami is a first class passenger. Now tell me…. was it the iceberg or the passengers fault the Titanic sank? Is it the passenger’s fault they wanted to save their own lives and given the circumstances wanted to do it in a very quick and timely fashion? Nope.

    If you want to be mad at Miami then you have to be mad at every Big10 school. It’s like your boyfriend dumped you for your best friend and the only person you blame is him. You can’t pick and choose and still be professional. it doesn’t work that way. Every chance you have had in the past few weeks you have had something snarky or backhanded to say about Miami. They won the regular season title and you still had to get your “interesting” comment in without a sincere congrats to the team. I just think it’s very petty for a professional reporter.

    That being said I’m a bit sad to see the CCHA end, but I can’t wait to watch Miami play in the NCAC. Let’s go Hawks

  • http://www.facebook.com/markfheil Mark Heil

    The NCAA should take over officiating and create pools of geographically based officials. With the larger distances between schools in the new leagues, travel time will make it difficult for the part-time officials.

    • Decatur Spartan

      I agree. But they should do that for every sport. But then the NCAA would be responsible.for payroll, rulings and suspensions that the conferences currently handle. I don’t know if the NCAA is up to handling that responsibility.

  • Joe Bertagna

    Paula – great piece. And as someone who has been “there,” I can say with enthusiasm that Tom Anastos and Fred Pletsch have been exemplary leaders of college hockey, not just for their employers but for the entire game. Few people have given college hockey as much with class and sound judgment as those two. Bill Beagan made his contributions as well, many of them in the “Favorite Anecdotes” department, as you reference. The commissioners once sat through a presentation by a young marketing guy, whose name shall be withheld at this time (he still works in the sport). This guy had to be 25 years old, full of confidence and grandiose ideas. He began and ended with a swagger, leaving all of us speechless. All of us but Bill, who, after waiting for the effects of the sales pitch to subside, said, “Well, he walks like a cowboy, talks like a cowboy, now let’s see if he can ride a horse.”

  • tb111960

    The CCHA’s demise can be hung around the neck of one Barry Alvarez, the Wisconsin AD and former football coach. Paula, if you want to do some digging you may find out that the CCHA offered to let Penn State in and allow the Big Ten to create it’s own division within the CCHA. Coach Red Berenson supported this idea, Alvarez was opposed.

    I’m not sure if the CCHA would have had three four team divisions or if they were looking into having Wisconsin and Minnesota also join and letting the Big Ten have a six team division and possibly dropping two other teams to keep the league at 12 teams and two divisions. The excuse that was being made was TV coverage on the Big Ten Network. It will be interesting to see how many more games they broadcast next season as opposed to this one. Besides, any increase in TV revenue I assumed will be split among all Big Ten Members and that the amount will be small and very diluted to the six schools that actually have the hockey teams.

    • http://www.facebook.com/seymour.butze.9 Seymour Butze

      See my post above. I don’t think you can hang this primarily on Alvarez.

      Talk about the Big Ten as its own hockey league has been ongoing for about 3-4 decades now. If Bill Beagan is that tore up about the league dissolving, he could have taken some measures during his own tenure at the helm.

      Something that I’ve been promoting since I was in college was an alliance between the Mid American Conference and the CCHA. With the specific goal of a merger between the two conferences should the Big Ten schools leave.

      All these new little schools that are creating hockey programs have obviously figured out the financial hurdles to maintaining hockey as a D-I sport. Beagan also should have been lobbying schools like Northern Illinois, Buffalo, Ohio University, Ball State, Toledo, Kent State, and Eastern Michigan (two of which were previous CCHA members… OU in fact was a charter member). Had he done this… Had Miami, Western Michigan, and Bowling Green still had other hockey-playing conference mates left in the CCHA/MAC, some form of the CCHA would still exist.

      So instead of throwing accusations at Pletsch, Beagan should be asking what he could have done to prepare for inevitable change… which is one of the primary jobs of a conference commissioner.

      • tb111960

        You can hang it on him if Red Berenson was for the alternate proposal and he was the main guy shooting it down at a meeting. Alvarez is not a hockey guy, Berenson is. However, Berenson is not an AD and Alvarez is, putting him in a position to sway other AD’s. The Big Ten gains very little, if anything, and now will have fewer teams in the NCAA due to beating each other up in a six team league. I know they hope other Big Ten schools will add hockey, but that is a big hope as it is an expensive sport to play.

        • http://www.facebook.com/seymour.butze.9 Seymour Butze

          1. Wisconsin & Minnesota would not leave the WCHA to play in the CCHA.

          2. Like I said, Penn State would have ended up in Hockey East before the CCHA. (Why not ask Bertagna, himself, since he checked into this thread?)

          3. Delany was not going to allow Penn State to join Hockey East (getting one foot out the door so to speak.) The easiest way to prevent that was to organize Big Ten hockey.

          4. BTN is a cash-making machine for the league. Don’t believe me… ask Rutgers & Maryland. Adding Big Ten hockey to the network improves the Big Ten schools exposure and nation-wide profile. BTN broadcasts while in the CCHA have been spotty at best.

          5. Change is inevitable. People who embrace change are more likely to succeed. People who don’t are more likely to fail. Berenson looks to be in the latter group.

  • Tom

    Miami was invited to join the NCHC by a committee which included Notre Dame. ND was already going the leave the CCHA and invited Miami to join them. The original plan was Miami and Western Michigan were to be the 7th & 8th team. the league wanted 8 teams. When word leaked out of North Dakota about the new league, the 6 teams that were “officially in” decided to announce the NCHC, they didn’t want 7 teams, so Western was on the outside waiting for Notre Dame to decide. The reason for ND waffling was they had been negotiating with NBC and wanted the whole contract to themselves. The NCHC wanted a shared contract. When ND wouldn’t budge, the NCHC said “see ya”. Then Notre Dame looked to Hockey East and got what they wanted: the NBC contract for themselves and even less league games than the other HE teams. It was only then that the 6 NCHC teams went ahead and invited St Cloud to come in with Western. So Miami left the CCHA because they already knew Notre Dame was going and Western probably too. Miami would have been foolish to stay behind. They would have had trouble recruiting against the NCHC and Big 10. Joining the NCHC was the only thing Miami could do if they wanted to be a relevant hockey team in 5 years.

    • Tom

      Also, don’t blame Jeff Jackson. He wanted the NCHC but Notre Dame Administration wanted to leverage the NBC football contract. Note that many times when Notre Dame plays a Hockey East team, the NBC Sports channel will be blacked out in New England. NESN has the HE contract and demanded that NBC Sports not broadcast HE games in New England at the same time NESN has games. That was one reason it took so long for ND to finalize getting into HE. That was a sticking point that ND gave in on to go to HE.

  • James McGuire

    Paula, this is one of the best pieces you have written, although there are parts that I disagree with.
    Thank you for sharing the Bill Beagan stories and some of the CCHA insight.
    As a long time hockey fan, not just a NCAA fan, I have to take exception with your repremanding tone towards fans that are upset with the officiating.
    The fact is, officials are no different than players in that they will make mistakes- it is part of the game. It is when the officiating becomes “noticable” that fanbases have a right to complain. Unfortunately, the degree of officiating at the collegiate level doesn’t match the NHL ranks. But, one would expect that it would be better than the weekly display of inconsistency we were subject to. This weekend’s events at Yost were not a one off occurance. Noncompliance has happened much more than what is acceptable, and the officials should be called out for it.
    To basically say a team should have secured more points to make those errors less impactful is simply a way of enabling the officiating establishment. Both occurances are mutually exclusive issues. The expectation is to recieve officiating at an acceptable standard. Period. It should not matter that a team is in a position to clinch a home playoff position or not. The issue can’t be tranferred to that team or its fans for its previous “record”.
    I hope that the officiating standards of the Big Ten are higher than what was tolerated in the CCHA. That said, there are many good officials in the league that deserve credit for their service and for their performance. One such individual is Tony Molina. I hope that Mr. Molina decides to come back. If not, he deserves credit for being one of the best on ice officials the CCHA had.

  • Doug

    Paula. Seriously. Give it a rest. No one wanted the CCHA to stay in its current form more than Miami. The Big 10 schools decided to act in what they felt was their best interests and leave the CCHA. That and that alone destabilized the CCHA. If there was no BTHC and Miami had left for another league (like UNO did a few years back) would the CCHA have destabilized? Absolutely not. After the 3 Big 10 schools left Notre Dame was going to leave no matter what. You can’t fault Miami for wanting to remain a nationally relevant program. Whatever watered down version of the CCHA that could potentially be in existence if Miami had stayed wouldn’t be much better than the one bid leagues of the AHA or ECHA. You can’t fault Miami for being proactive when faced with a difficult situation that was not of their creation. Well, I guess you can, and do seemingly at every opportunity you get.

    • Joseph Crowley

      ECAC is typically a three to four NCAA bid league. Closer to three and occasionally only two, but not an autobid only league. Also, it is not a league you want to face in the NCAA unless you like defensive struggles and overtime.

  • Tim – compass school dad

    Paula, enough of trying to make Miami the villain. Bring up commissioner and the Titanic and you
    miss the punch line. The punch line is
    that Tom Ananstos is no Captain Smith.
    Captain Smith did know the berg was coming and he didn’t get in a luxury
    lifeboat. Enough about that.

    I am no Michigan fan but I admire them. Here they are in the hunt. Your singling them out all year was way off
    base. I will be cheering for the Cats this weekend
    but I admire the legacy of Michigan. If
    I have a Big 10 team they are it.

    Finally, officially speaking? Really, the official would not review when
    asked to and Coach Murray thought it was a goal after reviewing several
    tapes. You opinion is nothing other than
    Sparty talk. Have you ever been to

    Even the Big 10 does not deserve you! Sparty on!

  • ZoomieBlueline

    I truly appreciate the insight you’ve brought us in this article and through the years, Paula. Following the inner workings of college hockey is no easy task for hungry fans accustomed to hangnail reports from other college sports.

    The CCHA will always be in my heart, (and covering it with some aging t-shirts) even as I enthusiastically look forward to following the NCHC.

    I’ll keep an eye out for you in the B1G. You’re right that there were no villains, just economic circumstances.

  • holter19

    ugh…Paula, Paula, Paula….

    Who really cares what happened in the end? The CCHA is no more. Miami left because they had too. All you do is state your “opinions”. You wrote “it was clear that the fate of the league lay with its member teams.” ……. “From what I can tell, every program did what it could to make the best of the situation.” How can you tell? Please tell us.
    Did you call Coach Blasi to actually report what happened?–no. Did you contact Notre Dame to get the facts? — no. Did you pursue interviewing any coach or school on the subject? — no. No quotes, proof, confersations. Zilch.
    Ultimately, times change. The new conferences will be good for college hockey exposure. And best of all, we won’t have to read your biased columns.
    Oh, also. Your ballots are dumb and make no sense. I don’t have the time to go into that.

  • jenny

    “Congratulations to the Miami RedHawks, the last regular season champions of the CCHA! Ever!”

    Yet there’s a picture of Western holding the tournament cup? Haters gonna hate I guess.

  • disqus_b8p9DDwdkl

    So not winning more games and getting more points earlier in the season, or scoring more goals earlier in the game, is an excuse for abysmal officiating? Awesome. Glad you let Western and UM, and every other team out there know that.

    Of course, maybe if CCHA officials could call things like too many men on the ice properly teams like Western and UM WOULD score more goals and win more games and get more points.

    There is never an excuse for bad officiating. Everyone makes mistakes, but things like that are inexcusable at this level. I don’t care if you’re up or down 5 goals with 2 minutes left, you are entitled to getting correct calls by the rules.

  • http://twitter.com/ShaneNDDomerFan itsyoboy

    Nebraska Omaha over ND lol ND already beat them earlier in the season

  • WMUBroncoAlumnus02

    Miami may have been the first to officially declare that they were leaving, but everyone knew that Notre Dame was gone the second the Big Ten teams left. I love the CCHA, long before I attended WMU my dad used to take me to Chicago watch UIC play so I grew-up with the league. While I’m sad that the CCHA is fading, I’m also really excited about forming new rivalries. Yes I will miss watching my Broncos play schools like Ferris State and Lake Superior State, but I also cannot wait to start taking weekend trips to schools such as North Dakota, Denver and Colorado College. Conference realignment in college sports is the world that we live in now, we might as well embrace it and look at the positives as opposed to being jaded and living in the past.

  • Joseph Crowley

    My take as a completely neutral party (BU Alum) living in Northern Virginia watching whatever hockey I can find on Fios.

    Penn State adding hockey meant the five Big Ten schools were going play in the new Big Ten Hockey Network to fill television slots. It does not matter that it is a six team league for a long time. It will have an autobid and can schedule non-conference games with Hockey East, ECAC, AHA, WCHA and NCHC as they see fit.

    Without two or three anchor programs, the old WCHA and CCHA faced a situation where the RPI of their leagues would drop while also always looking over their shoulder waiting for teams to be poached. Notre Dame going to Big East, which many of us suspected just from television dollars made sense, was always going to be the first shoe to drop. Also, if Notre Dame ever joined the Big Ten for football, as unlikely as Red Grange shaking hands with Mr. Yost’s ghost, they would be forced to BTHC.

    The reality is that WCHA and CCHA were not both going to survive post BTHC in any form resembling the old state. A Hockey East/ECAC/AHA alignment was far more likely. The BTHC is much like the Ivies, where brand name is the most important factor. NCHC has high caliber hockey but is willing to take in members based on hockey criteria. The new WCHA is for the programs that still need development or have maxed out their potential. By this, I mean restoring great old programs, building new arenas, developing new interest and keeping hockey alive in places it struggled compared to the big schools. None of these are slights and any champion from any league is a threat to win the NCAA title.

  • Joseph Crowley

    Just wondering why BC is second and UMass Lowell is fourteenth on your ballot. Lowell is crushing all takers in Hockey East right now, while BC is stuck in neutral.

    I cannot believe that Lowell is closer to Providence in your mind than it is to UNH/BC. The Riverhawks are rising at the right time.

  • Kevin

    When it comes to the idea of Anastos going on to administration of Big Ten hockey at some point, I think many people had the idea years ago when he bailed the CCHA as the commentators were tearing down his coaching experience and questioning MSU’s move to hire him.

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