The much rumored and now confirmed “Super League” is exactly what schools like North Dakota and Denver have wanted since the announcement of the Big Ten Hockey Conference earlier this year.
With the most of the powers of college hockey’s past joining together under one umbrella, with a big money TV deal to boot, the UND’s and DU’s of the world decided the only way to compete was to find other like-minded folks to join together and form the powers of college hockey’s future.
The difference between the BTHC and the new “Super League” is simple however: Money. The BTHC has it. The “Super League” might have it. Whether that one word is enough to throw a potential wrench into the sport is still up in the air.
But one thing is for sure: The game has changed for the little guys of college hockey.
It was once believed that once Penn State started a hockey program, schools around the country might jump on board and start programs of their own. And maybe that may someday by true.
But right now, college hockey fans need to worry about the future of some already existing programs.
What about Bowling Green? Their future already cloudy, now they’re without all of their top draws. For a program that lives and dies by their gate revenue, it’s possible BGSU could fall by the wayside.
What about schools like Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage? Their future is probably tied together in a new combined WCHA-CCHA. But will their fellow conference mates really be able to swallow having two schools from The Last Frontier, and spending more on travel budgets?
What about Alabama-Huntsville? Will a new WCHA-CCHA combined league change its stance in terms of accepting the Chargers?
What about schools like Bemidji State and St. Cloud State, which have spent, or are spending big money on arena upgrades. What’s the point now? The city of Bemidji was told a new arena would secure BSU’s future in the WCHA, which now looks like it no longer exists.
What has made the WCHA so viable over the years has been the league’s playoffs and Final Five — perhaps the most popular college hockey tournament in the country, Frozen Four included. That massive amount of money was shared between all the schools. With Minnesota and Wisconsin leaving, a large chunk of money was already going to be missing. With UND, DU, UMD, UNO and CC leaving, how will these other schools make a tournament profitable?
I think a new league with the Minnesota schools plus the Michigan schools will be able to survive. Both states have a rock-solid hockey base to build upon. But what of these other small schools? What will happen to them? I guess we’re all about to find out.