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College Hockey:
No hard feelings? Don’t count on it

One gets the sense that there are some hard feelings growing around college hockey, and it might get worse before it gets better.

Sources say that Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota will strike out on their own in a newly formed conference beginning with the 2013-14 season. It’s hard to do, but I’d like to wait for that announcement, believed to be coming Wednesday, and for the principals to give their explanations before passing judgment.

But in the course of a phone interview with WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod on Tuesday, one in which he said he hoped to be able to keep the league at 10 teams after the departure of Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2013, I asked whether there would need to be some fence mending done for that to even be possible.

As it turns out, it’s a moot point, but McLeod’s response might give some more insight into the behind-the-scenes climate of college hockey today.

“I’ve always believed that we were going to end up staying together as 10 and building from there,” McLeod said. “My tack was to keep the erosion of what we have to a minimum. We’ve had a couple of [athletic director] calls where the calls have been to some degree contentious, and I’ve always tried to mitigate that tension that’s going on with the hope that in the long run that erosion of what’s taken so long to build would be kept to a minimum.

“As time goes on and circumstances like this arise and it’s clear that the impetus is coming from a couple of schools in the WCHA — they seem to be driving this train and pushing it down the track — the erosion of what we’ve had, the erosion of the relationships that we’ve had and the erosion in the trust that we’ve had in one another gets to be more apparent. That is one of the concerns in the long run, even if we don’t stay together.

“There’s going to be some awful, awful hard feelings, and that will be reflected in scheduling prerogatives for all of the institutions involved, et cetera. So it’s not going to be an easy road here for the next couple of years, that’s for sure.”

Seems that way more and more each day.

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  • Onken123

    This is bad for the sport of college hockey. Now 2 conferences lose out and we have the “haves” and “have- nots”

  • HockeyJock

    Hard feelings doesn’t even begin to describe my emotions at this point. As a fan of one of the WCHA teams left on the outside, it’s more like an intense hatred of the two instigators. I dislike the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Badgers and the Gophers, but after this stab in the back, no professional or college sports team will ever conjure up such feelings of utter disgust in me as the mention of DU and UND.

    • Yukon

      This probably got to the tipping point real fast.  Denver was dipleased with how the WCHA handled the BTHC split and with the leadership of McLeod and his “wait and see” attitude.  They looked accross the room and saw UND just as displeased.  A couple of phone calls later, CC new it was in their best interest to follow DU, especially if UND was involved and the whole North Dakota coaching tree went as one block – Scott Sandelin and Dean Blaise made sure they were not on the outside looking in.

      Why not St Cloud?  The big goal was to get ND and Miami.  If they had to reserve a spot for Western MI to help ensure that these two eastern schools wouldn’t have to travel as far, that was the price to pay.

      If Notre Dame does stay in the CCHA (nope), or go to what is left of the WCHA (nope) or end up ging east (possible), my guess is the offer extended to Wester MI might fall through and St. Cloud and one other school fall back into the mix for the new hockey alliance. St Cloud has better attendance than some of the schools allready mentioned and is reasonable to travel to.

      For some of the teams like Western, St. Cloud, Mankato or Bemidji, do you want to be at the bottom of a new conference or would you like an opportuntiy to be a contender in a new conference.  Besides travel costs, it comes down to winning and having a chance to play the last three weeks of the season.

      • Bconway6

        I understand UND and DU being unhappy by the gophers and wisconsin leaving, but what did they want McLeod to do? Immediately ask Miami and Notre Dame to join? That would certainly ensure death to the CCHA (which is now inevitable). I guess he could have tried harder to force a scheduling arrangement that would have been more beneficial, but there are still logistical issues like sheer number of games to play that get in the way.

      • SiouxPhan

        “Dear Huskies, we’d like to offer you membership into our new league.  Please realize that you were not our first, second or thind choice.  It is only because the Kentucky School for the Blind has not fully committed to having a hockey team that you are being asked.”

    • Snipercohan23

      The WCHA and CCHA will collapse and a phoenix in the name of College Hockey America will rise from the ashes!!!!

    • Suture

      LOL…that is so funny.  Let me see, if I say “Sioux”….or “Pioneer” will that rattle your cage too?…lol…:)

  • gopherhockey

    The WCHA’s poor leadership has run it into the ground, not any team.  There is a reason the whole crowd showed it’s displeasure with McCloed at the final five……

    • WoogLips4Ever

      I heard he is next in line to be the AD for gopher nation

  • VermontfaninNY

    Which is ironic, because in the new conferences there will of course be haves and have nots. 

  • http://twitter.com/fredmarvin95 Fred Marvin

    North Dakota spearheaded this move because of their intense jealously of the Minnesota Gophers. 

    • Hockey Fan

      that’ too funny!

    • Greenbayguy

      That is outrageous.  Any blame for the mad rush lies at the feet of the BTHC and the six elites.

    • Hockey

      Either that or they are scared they can’t function without MN and Wisconsin.  So panic set in.

    • #1 Ranked Sioux

      You seem to spout off at the mouth pretty quickly, Freddy….  Do you feel inadequate, or that your school seems inadequate?   Where do you find the facts that UND did this?  Show me something on paper…..   I thought so, spewing chum like a troll.

      This event wasn’t started by UND.  It was the egos of the Big-Ten.  They made the move and it really forced Minnesota & Wisconsin (WCHA), and Michigan, Ohio State, Mich. State, (CCHA) into the corner.  They had no choice if the remaining sports in their schools are also aligned with the Big-Ten.  There is your pressure that spurned the tornado of a month this summer.

      Yes, the WCHA has a great tournament, but the league isn’t very proactive.  Behind the scenes things haven’t been all that rosy for awhile.  Once their two main venues left town DU made the notion and quickly CC and UND followed.  The UND connection then moved onto UM-D and UN-O.   Sure, they want Miami & Notre Dame…..  who wouldn’t to round out your very own premier league?  

      Money drives scholarships.  scholarships come from financial donors & selling seats at the arena.  I hold season tix for UND at the Ralph and I’m among 12,000 other fans that are there week-in and week-out.   To remain keeping the program viable UND didn’t have many other options, either, Fred.  What would you expect them to do??  Stay in the weak WCHA with all of their main rivalries moving on?  Hell no!

      • Bconway6

        The Egos at the Big Ten are obvious. However that is actually something that can be good for the sport. I am not so sure, but there are definite upsides. Better exposure for college hockey in general probably being the primary one. At least the Big Ten decision made sense. This just reaks of jealousy and short sightedness.
        *********************Sure, they want Miami & Notre Dame….. who wouldn’t to round out your very own premier league? **************If they wanted their very own premier leauge they already HAD IT! If they wanted to “round out” the leauge they could have asked Notre Dame and Miami to join the existing leauge. Being 4th in a 12 team conference is better than 4th in a 6 team one isnt it? Home playoff series perhaps, higher PWR.
         
        ********************To remain keeping the program viable UND didn’t have many other options, either, Fred. What would you expect them to do?? Stay in the weak WCHA with all of their main rivalries moving on? Hell no!********************Money is important and does indeed drive athletic programs. Thats why the BTHC makes sense. The 6 BT teams will be able to make more money with their TV network, conference tournament (maybe, I’m still not convinced) etc. It isn’t like the ralph is suddenly going to be empty because Wisconsin is not a leauge member anymore. The ralph will stay full because its an awesome place to go watch a hockey game.Also, a lot of commentors have offerd the “at least theyre not sitting around” line as a reason for doing this. This implies that there is a better place to go. How is half your former conference a better option than your existing conference? Do the Denver and UND AD’s think theyre in line for some kind of TV deal that they would otherwise not be able to get? I just dont see that.********************Money is important and does indeed drive athletic programs. Thats why the BTHC makes sense. The 6 BT teams will be able to make more money with their TV network, conference tournament (maybe, I’m still not convinced) etc. It isn’t like the ralph is suddenly going to be empty because Wisconsin is not a leauge member anymore. The ralph will stay full because its an awesome place to go watch a hockey game.Also, a lot of commentors have offerd the “at least theyre not sitting around” line as a reason for doing this. This implies that there is a better place to go. How is half your former conference a better option than your existing conference? Do the Denver and UND AD’s think theyre in line for some kind of TV deal that they would otherwise not be able to get? I just dont see that.

    • Suture

      Oh, I see, you mean the Sioux have jealousy because they kick the Go-Fers arse each and every year?  I don’t understand your comment here Fredrick?  Is this some kind of reverse psychology?  Hmmm, I am wondering if Frattin and Malone are jealous of your boy…what’s his name…Wehrs maybe?  Fredrick, if you insert “hatred” instead of jealousy your comment would make much more sense. 

      • The Oil Drum

        As an outsider of both programs, I look at the Gophers as a better hockey enterprise. Better fans, classic arena, and more of a name brand

        • WhiskeyJet

          I’ve been to several games at Mariucci, it is quieter than a church unless the Gophers are winning or just scored.

  • Guest

    As a UMD fan I guess I’m relieved that they’ll be moving with the new league, but WOW, this is really throwing the remaining WCHA teams under the bus.  I think it’s a terrible thing to do, and I have to say it seems like sort of a rash “preemptive strike” against competition from the BTHC.  The fact is, no one KNOWS yet what that will mean for the non-Big Ten teams.  Why jump into a situation that may do good but will also certainly do harm before you have all the information??     

    • Anonymous

      Back in the early 70′s Mich & Mich St were having a tough time competing in the WCHA so they left because they couldn’t stand losing to schools much, much, smaller than them.  They claimed saving expenses as the reason, but all hockey fans knew better.   Minn and Wisc faired better over the years by always being in the hunt for a league  title. 
       
       
      Over the past few years Minn & Wisc have slipped a bit and don’t seem to be righting the ship.  Also, even though Mich won the CCHA,  Ohio St and Mich St were both below .500 for the year.  The same ego boys that brought us the “Leaders” & Legends” name couldn’t stand to see 4 of their 5 hockey playing schools being defeated by much smaller schools once again.
       
       
      So our B10 Universities have once again taken  their sticks and ran away to form their own league.   This then forced the hand of all the rest of the schools in the CCHA & WCHA to look out for what was good for them. 
       
      Mich is as good a program as UND,Denver, UMD, CC, UNO, Miami, or ND.  However, O.St, Mich St, Minn, and Wisc are not anymore.   They are part of the B10 name that is their only claim to present day fame.  In short, there are many colleges playing hockey that are better than our B10 schools.  Check out the 2010-2011 Standings for yourself.  
       
       

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

        Wow,you’re all over the place,aren’t you. In the future,start your posts with”Once upon a time,in a land far far away from here…” Meanwhile,back in the real world,the Formation of the BTHC was preordained when,years ago, the Big Ten set the condition that,when 6 or more conference members play a particular sport,those teams are required to play together as a Big Ten Conference sport. When Penn State received a alumni member donation of 83 million dollars,they were finally able to build a suitable arena and begin a men’s and women’s D1 program. The Big Ten now had 6 member schools playing the sport. It’s as simple as that. Despite your wishing and hoping otherwise,nobody is running away in fear(if you would check your facts,you would be shocked to discover that the declining Badger program played in the NCAA Frozen Four Final way,way back in 2010.)Now stop saying things off the top of your head. People are starting to talk.

  • UMD21

    I just ordered my season tickets this year so if I have to fly 1,000-2,000 miles to see games, seeing most of our games against UAA and MTU and Mankato doesn’t excite me. Still think it’s a terrible thing, throwing teams under the bus. I at least hope SCSU ends up in this confrence with UMD, otherwise it is just depressing for the whole state IMO. I wish we could keep the MN teams together a bit better, screw the rest

  • Dogfan34

    As a UMD fan, I don’t see the point of this and I don’t love it, but am happy we are going instead of being left out like Cloud, Mankato and Bemidji.  Wish there was a Minnesota Conference: Gophers, Dogs, Huskies, Beavers, Maveriks and add one more to qualify for a NCAA birth.  Sad to see the in-state rivlaries destroyed by greed of the Big Ten.

    • Guest

      UND.. they’re basically the NW MN team anyway

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JBQC34XSYM4Q4VGCKWTO53PIGQ Anonymous

    Money, is the bottom line.  NOT what’s good for college hockey.  This is science.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JBQC34XSYM4Q4VGCKWTO53PIGQ Anonymous

    I think the remnants of the two conferences should join up.  Geographically this has possibilities.

    Bemidji State
    Alabama-Huntsville
    Alaska-Anchorage
    Alaska-Fairbanks
    Mankato
    St. Cloud
    Michigan Tech
    Northern Michigan
    Lake Superior State
    Ferris State
    Bowling Green
    Western Michigan

  • SiouxAlumDenver

    The simple fact is that DU, UND, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have been the powerhouses of the WCHA for the last decade plus.  UMD became a national power THIS year.  Once UMN and Sconnie left, DU and UND were left to beat up on the other schools before battling it out for the league championship year after year, or leave and form a league with real competition. By doing this, the competition stays strong in every conference including the remaining WCHA and CCHA teams which will most certainly combine.  Sorry but St. Cloud, Tech, State and Alaska are not in the same category as the teams leaving.  Now they finally will be able to contend for championships.  This will be good for college hockey in the long run.

  • Ljolson

    I learned a long time ago that you can not stop people from doing what they want to do.I sincerely hope the formation of the Big 10 hockey league will encourage some of the other Big 10 schools like Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, and Indiana to go D-1 NCAA hockey.I also believe the remaining 11 or 12 teams from the WCHA and CCHA can have a very competitive league of their own.I propose we name it Hockey West.This new league will win National Championships just like the CCHA did.I feel the realignment of college hockey in the West will not only grow college hockey, but also make it more competitive for all the schools.Mike Olson,former player Michigan State University 1967-70.

    • WoogLips4Ever

      I hope the big 10 conference folds when they realize Penn St, Ohio St, and the other big 10 schools without D1 programs don’t have enough regional interest in hockey to sell tickets or advertising.  When that happens, the putrid rodents will be begging to play Mankato, St. Coud, and Bemidji.  They are leaving the WCHA because they can’t stand being upstaged by NoDak every year….this is the curse of Woog come home to roost….bewaaare…..beeeeeewaaaare!

      • Anonymous

        I agree,  the B10 has always been ful of hemselves.  Minn football hasn’t bee revelent since Sandy Stevens and Carl Eller played.  Since most readers won’t regognize those 2 names, that is how long ago it is.

        • The Oil Drum

          Since football matters in all of this…

  • Dog

    This is all so natural. Who wouldn’t want to leave a conference run by McLeod? He’s a crook and and it’s amazing he has a job a all. All any of the good teams needed was a real opportunity to get out from under. First chance…gone. And you can’t tell me anyone left in the WCHA doesn’t feel like they’re the butt end of a bummer. Watch how McLeod handles this whole thing. He won’t get creative or positive. He’ll spend all his energy for 2 years trying to screw over those leaving instead of positively creating as good a WCHA as he can, and he’ll run it into the ground. The only positive is he’ll be out of a job in two years because he’s incapable of being anything but petty. Good for those teams who took the bull by the horns.

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