Monday, July 11, 2011

Alaska Nanooks Possibly to Join the WCHA (UPDATED: Not True (UPDATED AGAIN: True after all))

Sources have indicated that Alaska may be close to striking a deal to join the WCHA effective 2013-2014, in the wake of the announcement of the Big Ten and the aforementioned CBHA (or "Super Conference", depending on how politically correct you want to be). Dispelled.

College Hockey News is also reporting that Northern Michigan is in a similar situation, meaning that the new conference--if everything pans out--would be:

Alaska
Alaska-Anchorage
Bemidji State
Mankato
Michigan Tech
Northern Michigan
St. Cloud State

I would suspect that 8th seat may be held for Western Michigan, should they need a home.

UPDATE: Thanks to Forrest for spending a good half hour on the phone with me this evening. I know he has a family, and I'm thankful for that time he spent on this well outside of business hours.

That said, the first topic of conversation was pretty obvious. UAF is NOT in talks to join the WCHA. It's likely that the information was confused before it got to me. After a conference call this past Friday between the CCHA member schools, Forrest made a point that intentions are to meet with WCHA representatives in person, but plans have not been made yet. WCHA AD's and officials are converging in St. Paul to hammer a lot of this out. After that, I would expect the two groups to come together.

The sad part is, a lot of conversations are happening one on one. School officials including our own are having one on one meetings with the head office. What this means for the league, who knows. Forrest is committed to his peers at the CCHA, and is actively searching for the best possible place to be. Whatever it is, I know he's not sitting around on his hands.

Regardless though, this new 6 team conference isn't realistic. A 20 game conference schedule leaves 14 games to look for. I would expect that these games initially will be scheduled among the Big Ten teams, who will also be searching, but the bigger teams are just going to use the smaller ones to schedule home games, it only makes sense. Forrest did say that we would be hearing another team moving next week, although he declined to mention which. Certainly the obvious choice is Notre Dame, apparently Northern Michigan, and possibly Western Michigan considering their panic attack of a marketing campaign. While the website and slide show are notable, it's all about the program's value that they bring to the table. Certainly the Nanooks should have a seat at the proverbial table.

With a very high caliber coaching staff, and competitive play that has averaged 17 wins per season since Dallas took the helm, that's very respectable. The only mark against our program is travel, which again I believe is negated with the exemption. With an 8 team conference, 7 2-game series would be played in Fairbanks with a 28 game schedule, exempting 2 games from each conference members' schedule to capitalize on however they see fit. Games at home, TV coverage to generate ad revenue, etc. A 6 team conference would be a 20 game schedule with 14 games to fill. That just doesn't seem realistic to me. If they played 6 games against each other, that's 30, also not very realistic...


2ND UPDATE:  8/24
Several sources have received word that the talks in Chicago between the WCHA and CCHA have reached "a conclusion". Doesn't seem like a conclusion as much as it looks like a hostile takeover by the WCHA.

Adam Wodon, the man behind College Hockey News has reported that all 5 of the remaining CCHA schools (Notre Dame excluded, since they've already said they're leaving, but not sure where yet) have been extended official invitations to join the WCHA beginning with the '13-'14 season.  Teams have been given a 30-day window in which to accept said invitation.

I don't anticipate that our school will decline this invitation. I'm sure it will have to be discussed, and likely the travel arrangements may be an issue, but I'm sure that can be all worked out later. Exciting times!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

If this conference comes together I have to think that there must also be negotiations occuring between Lake Superior, Ferris State, Bowling Green and the schools in Atlantic Hockey who would like to play in a conference with higher scholarship limits (Robert Morris, Canisius, Niagara, and Mercyhurst). Maybe even Alabama-Huntsville.

Jason said...

If this comes to fruition, my guess is the WCHA will pull in one more to make it an even 8. My guess would be Lake Superior or Western Michigan.

Britton said...

I suspect you would probably be right. I personally would expect Mercyhurst to take initiative to move out soon. Having past experience with them in our tournaments in the past, those I've spoken with have indicated that they are committed to their hockey program, and wanting to make it more competitive. The reduced scholarship limitation in Atlantic Hockey give them a large disadvantage that I think they would want to move away from.

As for the 8th spot, I would suspect that if Western doesn't want in, Ferris State would be a more obvious number 2. Lake Superior, though they have a national championship, they're not an immediate contender.

Jason said...

I don't see Ferris making the switch, but who knows. I think Western is an attractive option, they are committed to their program and it gives the conference a toehold in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. If Western doesn't pan out, Lake State makes sense geographically. It would give the conference three UP teams, three Minnesota teams, and two Alaska teams.

Jimjamesak said...

Wow that's an awful quick and loud denial. Kind of disappointing really.

Anonymous said...

A 6 Team WCHA Can't and Won't happend for reasons stated. I don't see any way the remnants of the WCHA and the CHHA don't pool their resources and form a cast offs conference of their own.

The thing I wonder about is if the NCAA will be ok with a conference featuring two teams from Alaska. Could they lobby for the new "SLUT" Conference to take one team in and the Cast Offs take the other? Or, if this be Doomsday, not take either team at all, literally leaving UAA and UAF out in the cold.

Jason said...

The Alaska schools are together in every other sport that they share. I doubt the NCAA has an issue with it.

Forrest's synopsis sounds about right, I still think the WCHA is where we wind up.

Anonymous said...

You can't compare hockey in this regard to other sports. 1) Other sports don't a have a two game home series like hockey does. 2) The GNAC's travel is much easier and cheaper than the CCHA/ WCHA and 3) The NCAA originally kept the two schools separate specifically to keep travel costs down.

Jason said...

Travel costs? Wrong. We pay for it, as does UAA. Travel time is a better way to put it, specifically some schools not wanting to do the unthinkable: fly twice in one season.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I was unclear. I know the NCAA doesn't pay for travel, but their thinking was not to make a team travel twice to AK in one year, the unthinkable.

If I were UAF, wouldn't I try to campaign to the new super conference? As the story mentions, it's a respectable program with a lot of positives.

Mike Machnik said...

The NCAA doesn't have anything to do with it. They aren't involved in matters like this. It was the two leagues whose members decided to each accept one of the Alaska schools. The members are the ones who hold the power in any conference. Likewise, if it gets to that point, it is the WCHA member schools who will decide whether or not they wish to accept UAF, not anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Any word from the meeting in PA today?

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Thus we will find out who truly has the better team. Playing in the same conference against the same caliber of teams well once and for all settle this debate. Its about freakin' time

Anonymous said...

So the Governor's Cup head-to-head games didn't already prove that?

Anonymous said...

UAA welcome a new "Jr" member to the WCHA....

Anonymous said...

That's not right. UAA is the only Jr. college in Alaska.

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