Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Six-Team Super League on Its Way?

Well, that sure didn't take long.

Multiple outlets this week detailed the impending establishment of a new six-team "super league" that would consist of current WCHA members Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota, along with CCHA school Miami and possibly Western Michigan. Those schools supposedly felt they had to take (knee-jerk) action in light of the future loss of WCHA members Minnesota and Wisconsin to the new Big Ten Conference in 2013, along with CCHA constituents Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State, and newcomer Penn State.

Where that leaves the remaining schools is anyone's guess if this new conference does indeed come to fruition in two years' time. Assuming WMU (and possibly Notre Dame) also leaves the CCHA, that league would then be left with Alaska Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan. What's left of the older WCHA would consist of Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State.

The two five-member leagues wouldn't subsequently choose to go it alone, as you need at least six teams in a conference to be eligible for the biggest prize of all, an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Would those circuits each attempt to woo a sixth member from somewhere else, possibly Air Force from Atlantic Hockey, or current Division I independent Alabama Huntsville? Would the two outlets join forces and instead fashion a new 10-team league that would include both Alaska schools, and necessitate that the other eight travel to the 49th State at least once each every season?

Current CCHA member Notre Dame, which opens a new on-campus arena this fall, is still mulling its options, It could join the proposed new super league; sign on with the Big Ten as an affiliate, or; even jump to Hockey East, which itself would then likely pursue another school such as UConn in order to ice an even number of teams.

The new six/seven-school league is slated to host a press conference next week, at which time the upheaval of the once more or less staid landscape of NCAA Division I men's college hockey will continue. Who knew that one day bringing Penn State into the D-I fold could have possibly caused such cataclysm?

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