TAMPA, Fla. – The Frozen Four draws college hockey fans perennially from all over the country, and every one of them has an opinion on every aspect of the game. Thursday night, I walked the concourse of the Tampa Bay Times Forum to ask fans one question: What do you think about the college hockey realignment that takes effect in the 2013-14 season?
What follows are my very unscientific findings.
Mike, a Michigan fan: “I think the Big Ten thinks it’s a good business move, but you’re getting rid of some of the more natural geographic rivalries. Some of the smaller schools that aren’t [Division] I-A in other sports, I think you’re going to lose them. I think there’s too much emphasis on the Big Ten Network.”
Chris, a Minnesota fan: “It’s [expletive removed]. Look, we have years and years of alignments. We’ve got teams that we’ve played, teams that are rivals, teams that are together. Minnesota is all of a sudden the most western team and at least four hours away from its closest rival and [now will travel] all the way to Pennsylvania? Penn State decided that all of a sudden they want a team? No. Look, be in Hockey East. I don’t care. It’s very simple.”
Bob, a Rensselaer fan: “I think it’s kind of crazy. We’re in the ECAC so we’re still alive, but there’s threats of us losing Quinnipiac, then we’d be short one. Hockey East wants to take either Connecticut or Quinnipiac — that’s the rumor. They’ve got to decide how many Division I teams there’s going to be. Sixty seems like a good number. Five 12-member leagues. The power teams are going to be more powerful and the rest of us are going to be holding the bag.”
John, a Maine fan: “Look at Alabama-Huntsville. They’re trying to keep their program going. I’m not for it. I’d like to see them leave it like it is.”
Tim, another Michigan fan: “I think it’s really cool that Wisconsin and Minnesota are going to be playing Michigan on a regular basis. That part I love. Penn State getting a team, that’s nice, that’s good. It’s nice to see the hockey conferences align with the basketball and football conferences so that you have continuity.”
Chad, a Denver fan: “I hate it. I hate that it ruins tradition, something that’s been there for a long time. It’s for money, the only reason why they’re doing it.”
Jay, a Minnesota-Duluth fan: “I dislike it. I like the history, the history of the WCHA, the CCHA. Eliminating those conferences just for the marketing dollars in the Big Ten is garbage.”
Mark, a Michigan State fan: “I like it. I’m guessing there will be two home, two away [games] among Big Ten opponents, and that leaves you another seven or eight weekends when you can go anywhere you want. We can play anywhere we want.”
George, another Michigan fan — who was wearing the coolest jersey I saw, a game-worn Kent State jersey with the old CCHA logo on the right shoulder: “What I’m looking for in the realignment, living in southern Michigan, is that I’ll actually get to see the best four conferences within two hours driving time.”
Dale, a Northern Michigan fan: “We’ll see how it works. We like to play with the big boys, too, but now we may not get much of an opportunity to do that.”