B.C. Interrupted has an interesting perspective on PSU getting into the college hockey mix and what it would do to Hockey East.
If the Big Ten hockey schools were to break away from the WCHA and the CCHA, they would be creating a power Big Ten conference that I don’t think Hockey East could compete with in terms of being the premiere college hockey conference. Over time, we might see a geographic shift in NCAA Tournament locations where more regionals are played in Big Ten markets. Currently, the Eastern hockey teams typically benefit from two of the four Regionals being played in their backyard (typically, Worcester, Manchester, Providence and locations in Connecticut). A Big Ten hockey league would also garner more revenue (through a BTN television agreement) and exposure than leagues like Hockey East and the remnants of the CCHA and WCHA ever could.
The programs in a six-team Big Ten hockey league would also be looking for quite a few non-conference opponents to fill the schedule. BC, however, is afforded just a handful of non-conference scheduling slots after Hockey East play and the Beanpot. The Eagles could miss out on the exposure and revenue potential of scheduling non-conference opponents from a Big Ten hockey conference.
In the end, while any sort of college hockey expansion is good for the sport, Penn State adding Division I men’s ice hockey could set in motion a complete re-write of the college hockey conference landscape. If the CCHA doesn’t pick up Penn State as the league’s twelfth member and the Big Ten creates their own six-team conference, there may be significant changes to college hockey that won’t be in the best interest of the Boston College program.
First off; I don’t agree with the premise that there would be more regional’s in Big Ten Country than there already is. For instance, Minnesota seems to be the recent golden boys by getting the last two West Regionals in a row, however, the Gophers missed both regionals anyways because of poor play on the ice causing them to be sitting at home watching two other teams dance around Mariucci Arena and the Xcel Energy Center with the regional championship trophy. There is the already perceived built in advantage, of course the Gophers haven’t made the most of the gift that was handed them.
If my research is right; the University of Michigan hasn’t had a regional in Yost Arena since the 2002 – 2003 season, causing Michigan fans to call foul. Wisconsin last had a regional game at the Kohl Center in 2008, it was well attended and stuff full of WCHA teams. In case you forgot, that was the year that the Badgers qualified for the NCAA tourney with a losing record, hence, causing the new rule to be made that basically reads you will not qualify for an at large bid for the NCAA tourney unless you had a winning record.
Last season a regional was held in Fort Wayne Indiana, which is pretty close to Big Ten territory (96 miles from South Bend, Indiana) that was sparsely attended, 3204 fans watched the University of Michigan and Miami and from all the reports that I got from people that were there said the ice was horrible. The Arena was dingy and run down and Fort Wayne was a horrible place for a regional.
What I am trying to say is that I am not sure how PSU and or the BTHC would affect B.C. and or Hockey East in its present form because Hockey East is pretty darn successful already and will probably remain successful no matter what the BTHC, CCHA or WCHA do. There is this mindset by some that think there is going to be this BTHC utopia that is going to dominate college hockey and somehow put 4 of 6 teams in the NCAA hockey tourney every year beating the heck out of each other. I believe that mindset is arrogant and ill conceived. If that was the case the NCAA tourney would be won by Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and or Wisconsin every year regardless. That is just not the reality, there are many other good teams that are playing hockey that are not members of the Big Ten. In fact Hockey East has won the last two NCAA Championships.