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.