Saturday, July 9, 2011

Black Clouds On The Horizon, Silver Lining Announced

So USCHO has reported that this, what I'm going to call the Cry Baby league (CBHA, for short...), is essentially confirmed for announcement on Wednesday. The league will feature 6 teams, North Dakota, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, and Miami. Invitations are open to Notre Dame, and a potential 8th team presumed to be Western Michigan. Whether Western stays in that spot now that head coach Jeff Blashill has jumped ship and landed in an assistance coaching position with the Detroit Red Wings with the NHL. I can't discredit his move either, a college and a pro coach's salary don't really compare.

I still have yet to decide whether to be optimistic or not. That 8th invitation on the table is potentially still in the air, but who knows. It could be anybody. I certainly laid out reasonable justifications for UAF to get that spot. Selling a trip to Alaska though is a hard thing to do. But at the same time, a lot of CCHA players have said the trip to Fairbanks is one of their favorite trips of the year.

Changing gears, I'm going to be blunt here. We kind of knew that this shake up was going to happen, but how does this make Tom Anastos look now? For those that don't remember, Anastos left in the wake of the Big Ten announcement from his position as the CCHA commissioner to become the head coach for Michigan State, his alma mater. Granted, from a personal standpoint I understand the move. But to have your conference leader abandon ship when times get tough is more frustrating now. I'm not saying Fred Pletsch isn't doing a good job, but unlike we've seen from the WCHA, who have been quite vocal and transparent as to whats going on, nobody has heard a single peep from the CCHA or any of its constituents. Forrest hasn't returned my attempts to contact him yet, which is probably favorable. I'd rather have him involved in trying to keep the ship afloat versus talking to me at the moment.

That said, whats left of the WCHA athletic directors are embarking to Minnesota to meeting with WCHA officials to try to hash things out. The Anchorage Daily News has an interesting piece including quotes from UAA AD Steve Cobb, especially the closer "I'm not offended at all they want to start a conference. I'm very offended at the way it was handled," Cobb said. "We've got two years left, and I assume it's going to be very tense and very uncomfortable." (Source). Yup. Imagine how uncomfortable North Dakota should be over 2500 miles from home playing a tournament against two teams that they cast away. 2012 Brice Goal Rush, mark your calendars should that invite still stand.

In all likelihood, expect to see a "leftovers" league with both UAA and UAF in it. I'd still like to see UAH reeled in here as well, not a lot of talk has included them, but it seems as if it's every team for theirselves. As horrible as that sounds, it's certainly the way it looks. Plus, a 4 game Governor's Cup series is certainly positive. Then UAA has nothing to complain about after the flight home empty handed.

Regardless, I think a lot of these moves, whatever way they go may attract more teams to start college hockey. Paul Kelly with College Hockey Inc. admitted in an interview back in December with USCHO that he had been working with a few institutions who were exploring the option of making the move to Division I. While the possibilities weren't discussed, the plausibility that another team making the jump would certainly be a welcome way to get to 60 DI teams.

Anyway, the silver lining in all of these black clouds is a nice breakaway from all of this mess. The Athletic Department broke news yesterday that Dallas Ferguson has signed a contact extension through 2016, which I find very satisfying. Knowing that he's committed to staying on board through all of this makes me very confident that our team is in good hands and ready for whatever this mess is going to throw our way. Dallas is not just a great coach, but a great guy with great connections to the community. To know that UAF is committed to him just as much as he is to the program, I would hope that he could write his own salary


Jason said...

I'm optimistic that some good will come from this. It will be a change, but I think us and UAA are certainly in better shape than some of the other schools being left out.

I also saw a blurb on ESPN that Jordan Hendry may be going to play in Europe.

mmf said...

We're all feeling a bit jilted. But we need to vent, get over it, and re-group. If our programs have something to prove, then we need to prove it on the ice. And even though no-one knows where this mess is headed, we'd better come up with a better moniker than the "leftovers", even in the interim. Self-pity is unbecoming and tiresome.

As long as we get the opportunity to compete, UAF will do more than just survive. UAF just extended Coach Fergeson's contract through 2016, and the legislature just appropriated $3.5m for Carlson Center renovations, including new home and visiting locker rooms, media room, training room, lounge, spin room, community locker rooms, and equipment rooms.

But I fear we may be without a conference at all. Times are tough and conferences are circling the wagons. The "alaskan exemption" is a carrot, but not the end all. There is a very real chance we will be on the outside looking in.

With all due respect, we have no business in the new league. By their own accounts they are a Super League of Ultra-talented Teams (SLUTs). We are not SLUT material. We should not want to hang with the SLUTs.

The Nooks are typically blue collar, hard working, Canadian farm boys from small towns. We do charharts, not cardigan. And proud of it. Fairbanks is a good fit for most of them. Great hockey town, good education. Hockey is King in Fairbanks.

Is the King dead? Long live the King.

Jason said...

NMU is headed to the WCHA, and according to this UAF might be next up: