Friday, July 8, 2011

Super Conference? What has become of the WCHA?

WCHA: Just got abandoned...
The Story

A lot has happened in college hockey in the last couple days and, unfortunately, it has not been in the best interest of hockey. The WCHA as we know it (the best conference in the nation) may soon cease to exist. It has been known for awhile that the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin were leaving the WCHA for the more lucrative Big 10 Conference. Many, if not most, still believed that the WCHA, with its remaining members, would still be one of the best (if not still the best) conference in the nation as long as we stuck together. Apparently, that was not enough for some WCHA member schools. Rumored to be led by WCHA schools University of Denver and University of North Dakota, the formation of a new "Super Conference" has begun. This new "Super Conference" would consist of member schools North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, and Miami (Ohio). Additionally, Notre Dame and an eighth team (possibly St. Cloud State or Western Michigan) could be added this summer. This leaves the so-called “leftover schools" (which I find condescending) St. Cloud State, Minnesota State, Bemidji State, Alaska-Anchorage and Michigan Tech in a difficult situation. No matter how this turns out, it is a dark day in college hockey and for the power-house WCHA.

The Links

Tons of interesting articles and blogs have been written about this new "Super League" and what it means. See some of them below:
What it means for St. Cloud State
  • St. Cloud could be left with the other five WCHA teams, that leaves them one short of an autobid into NCAA tournament. It is likely that the WCHA would need to find at least one more member. That member could be Notre Dame.
  • The CCHA and the WCHA could band together forming a conference that looks like this:
Bemidji State
Bowling Green
Ferris State
Lake Superior State
Michigan Tech
Minnesota State
Northern Michigan
St. Cloud State
  • In the above conference, St. Cloud would be likely the best team.  This means more chances at conference titles and NCAA appearances. (Possibly the one positive thing).
  • There is going to be a real economical impact. St. Cloud is in the process of a $30+ million arena renovation. With its major fan support, SCSU has been able to charge between $25-40 per game for conference games last year. Those days would likely be gone...even the best hockey fan is not likely to pay $40 to see Ferris State in these economic times. *Side Note: St. Cloud State Hockey is the only sport to make money for St. Cloud State University. What impact will this have on the University as a whole?
  • Part of St. Cloud's recruiting success is based on being in a top league. If St. Cloud does not remain in the top league it may have a hard time recruiting top players (despite the arena renovations, passionate fans, great coaching, etc...)
  • If Notre Dame joins the "Super Conference", St. Cloud could join as the 8th member. According to, St. Cloud has higher attendance than "Super Conference" members Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, and Miami. (St. Cloud also has higher attendance than Notre Dame or Western Michigan). Out of ALL "Super League" Teams St. Cloud has the highest capacity percent.
  • With St. Cloud's recent hire of Gino Gasparini (of UND fame) as special adviser to our hockey program, you can bet St. Cloud will at least get strong consideration for the new "Super League".
The Conclusion

A lot of fingers could be pointed at "who is to blame" for the collapase of the WCHA (the conference that has the most impressive list of national scale accomplishments of any other sport). You could blame Penn State for starting a hockey program, the Big 10 Conference for taking great hockey programs from their existing conferences, Denver University and University of North Dakota for perusing this new league, the WCHA for poor leadership, or probably a handful of other people. However, at the end of the day, the root of this problem is greed. Greed is what has caused this to happen, and as of yet, I do not think there is a solution. Whatever happens I hope St. Cloud continues, "protecting the interests of St. Cloud State while considering the well-being of college hockey as a whole" and that "St. Cloud State will be a leader in whatever conference it finds itself in after realignment runs its course" (as stated in Rumors swirl about WCHA).

Stay tuned for future developments...

Go Huskies!!!


  1. The proposed new conference is a bad thing for SCSU. I saw a piece out of Grand Forks saying that the leftover WCHA and CCHA teams will be able to fight for championships, etc, but SCSU is at the top end of the leftover teams, and I think this will pull them down. I think the best thing to do overall would be for the remaining WCHA teams to try to pull in Air Force for a 6 team league. This would make for reasonable travel and better average rivalries than pulling in the remaining CCHA teams and playing some teams only 2 times per year. This would allow 4 games against 5 teams (20 games per year) and open up 8 non conference games, allowing more opportunities to play old WCHA teams. The CCHA should just take Huntsville then, and everyone has a home. I fear that some of the CCHA teams could end up folding then (Bowling Green), and then maybe the CCHA would be absorbed into the WCHA, but that could be a few years out.

  2. To clarify my last comment, I want to say that I think Air Force coming to the WCHA is the best thing that can happen for College Hockey if the super 6/8 conference comes to be. Slightly better for the WCHA would probably be having Northern Michigan join, but that would leave the remaining CCHA teams (and Huntsville) sitting in a very bad spot. I don't want to see anyone completely out in the cold after this shuffle.

  3. @Anonymous- Agreed, I do not want the WCHA and CCHA to come together either. I don't think that is what would be best for either conference or college hockey. They both need their own conference so more teams get to experience conference championships and more teams get autobids into the NCAA tournament. Also, the WCHA and the CCHA would also then get to play more non-conference games, hopefully against tougher teams to improve their strength of schedule and play more teams under consideration to help Pariwaise rankings. I also agree with the teams you mentioned. I would like to see the WCHA remain as strong as possible without hurting college hockey any more than it has been by this mess.

    Thanks for reading and your insights!

    Go Huskies!


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