And so ends the mystery of which conference gets Notre Dame: Hockey East. Notre Dame will announce tomorrow at 2:30 that it will be joining Hockey East for the 2013-2014 season. Apparently, Notre Dame would rather have joined the NCHC, but talks broke down over Notre Dame’s television agreement, which they had signed with a regional network (possibly Fox Sports Chicago, or they may have signed an agreement with Versus, it’s not clear yet).
With Hockey East at 11 teams, they’re going to want to increase to a 12th member. 3 schools have been thrown around:
1. UConn: UConn would add another brand name school to the conference, and could do a lot for attendance. Other than that, however, UConn brings nothing to the table. They have a terrible arena that isn’t up to Hockey East’s code, they have no scholarships (while HE teams offer 18), and there’s little spending on the team in general. If UConn ever invested in their team, it’d be a massive boon for Hockey East, but with them showing little interest in doing so (supposedly resistance by Basketball people in their Athletic Department), it’s highly unlikely they’ll be invited.
2. Quinnipiac: Quinnipiac is a school interested in moving up hockey-wise. They have a deal with NESN to broadcast some of their games, and they would no doubt jump at the opportunity. Their downside: little history. They haven’t done much at all, and Hockey East will likely want to add a strong school to make their conference better.
3. RPI. The clear favorite from everything I’ve heard. RPI has won NCAA championships, they have a strong fanbase in New England, and travel well (and Hockey East has a lot of alumni in the Capital Region). Really the only stumbling block here is if RPI doesn’t want to leave their strong position and connection with Ivy League schools to come to Hockey East.
In other realignment news, Bowling Green has agreed to join the WCHA, killing any hopes of reforming the CCHA with disgruntled Atlantic Hockey teams and a newly formed Buffalo hockey team. It seems like all the issues about the conference couldn’t be ironed out in time for the WCHA’s deadline and Bowling Green decided it’d be better off with a conference that’s not the best than no conference at all. I have a feeling this issue isn’t dead though, and if Buffalo can get the money together, we’ll be revisiting this idea a few years down the line. Eventually there’s going to be a split in Atlantic Hockey between those teams that want to invest and have a winning team and those that want to spend the minimum amount on scholarships, etc.
This leaves the WCHA with 9 teams, and looking to get a 10th. Alabama-Huntsville could be saved if it joined the WCHA, but my guess is it won’t join until the WCHA teams know whether or not Minnesota State-Moorehead has the money to form a team. The WCHA would rather have an even league centered around Minnesota, Upper Peninsula, and Alaska. Unfortunately that means that Huntsville’s days are numbered.
Does this end realignment for the time? Hahahaha…. Remember, RPI’s departure means that the ECAC will need to add a 12th team, look for them to poach a Atlantic Hockey team, and there are a lot of different options there with no real front runner. Either way, that leaves either Atlantic Hockey or the ECAC with only 11 teams, so someone’s not going to end up happy.