Questions of “Eastern Bias”

The WCHA placed three teams in the final eight, both teams in the national championship game, and yet earned only three of 12 All-Americans. Is this “Eastern bias” in the voting?

I would say there is bias only insofar as the system tends towards proportional representation. One simple reason for this is that if each coach gets one vote, there are more votes for Eastern teams. Another is that there are simply more players in the East, and with few interregional games to distinguish East from West, so odds are more Eastern players will get votes.

Here is the breakdown of teams by conference (excluding independents):

ECAC: 12 (37.5%)

WCHA: 8 (25%)

Hockey East: 8 (25%)

CHA: 4 (12.5%)

And here is the breakdown of All-Americans:

ECAC: 5 (41.7%)

WCHA: 3 (25%)

Hockey East: 2 (16.7%)

CHA: 2 (16.7%)

Thus, the share of All-Americans did not differ much from the share of coaches in each conference. The only conference that had fewer All-Americans than its share of coaches was Hockey East, which was the weakest conference in the country by most statistical measures.

On the flip side, the WCHA was the strongest by any measure, and only got an equal share of All-Americans. Experience and name-recognition bias were surely major factors. The top three WCHA teams were younger and more balanced than they have been in the past. Such a combination has never led to success in individual award voting.