Part of this is for my own sanity.
Great timing of the Big Ten Conference to announce it’s going to start men’s hockey in 2013-14, right during the busiest time of the college hockey season. Although, to its benefit, at least the league didn’t announce it during the conference tournaments. And, in its defense, I suspect the league has been getting some pressure to make an official announcement as to its status with men’s hockey, even though it can’t officially say it’s adding the sport because the presidents and chancellors haven’t yet approved it.
So, given that I have about 6,000 other things on my mind as we roll into the NCAA tournament later this week, I wanted to make a list of questions or things that need to be addressed about the emerging Big Ten hockey league. Some are rhetorical. Some are those to which I’d like actual answers. Feel free to add in your questions or thoughts in the comments below.
Question 1: What about those non-conference games?
Do the math. Twenty league games, so 10 at home. Teams can play 34, not counting some exempt tournaments and games in Alaska. Big programs like Wisconsin and Minnesota need to have 20 home games per season to make the financials work. So, with 14 non-conference games to work with, 10 of them are going to have to be at home.
I don’t like that balance, although I suppose that it’s been that way to some extent for a long time.
But which schools will go to the Big Ten buildings without a guarantee of a return series in their building in a future year? I can see some kind of scheduling arrangement being worked out between the Big Ten schools and their former conferences, but, at most, four of those games are going to be in the home buildings of those old conference rivals.
This is going to take some working out.
Question 2: Where’s that conference tournament going to be?
I’ve heard Chicago is the preferred location. But, remember, if the conference tournament and NCAA men’s basketball schedules stay the same, that could take a number of buildings (Chicago’s United Center, Milwaukee’s Bradley Center) out of the loop as a permanent home because they also occasionally host hoops regionals.
There are other locations, to be sure, but you’d like to have it somewhere easily accessible to all the teams and their fans, and still have a quality building in which to play.
Question 3: Which domino falls next?
Are schools like Notre Dame and Miami going to be content playing in a CCHA that doesn’t have Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State?
Does Hockey East try to lure them over there and make a 12-team league?
Where does Alabama-Huntsville fall in all of this?
More questions — and, hopefully, answers — to come when I get some more time.