Due to the impending and inevitable NHL lockout this season, a lot of hockey fans of the National Hockey league are going to be looking for other options to fill their NHL hockey void.
May I suggest, giving college hockey a try to fill your NHL hockey void?
For the college hockey fans this is going to be a very exciting season. First time fans are also going to find out that this is going to be very historic season in the college hockey world as well.
Let me get you up to speed on what is happening in the college hockey world.
The landscape has changed drastically since the summer of 2011 – this was due to a very generous donation from Penn State University alumnus Terry Pegula in September of 2010 – that very large and generous donation allowed Penn State University to start a men’s and women’s division I college hockey team.
With Terry Pegula, who is the founder and chief executive of East Resources Inc., opened his “rather large” wallet and wrote Penn State a check for $88 million to help the Nittany Lions build Pegula Ice arena. None the less, that donation rocked the college hockey world, now that the Big Ten “will have” six teams that play college hockey – the B1G by conference rules is required to have a B1G hockey conference – with this generous donation by Pegula – this new conference will begin play during the 2012-13 season.
With the addition of one University joining college hockey – a tidal wave of change came to college hockey landscape that set the ball in motion for what ended up being a very chaotic summer. With a swipe of a pen – the big name/money schools from the Big Ten Schools that were in both the WCHA and the CCHA dedided to leave the WCHA and CCHA conferences and form the Big Ten Hockey Conference.
On the outside, it would “appear” that the transition for the B1G schools was for the most part seamless.
Not to be out done and in response to the Big Ten hockey conference formation; Miami University from the CCHA decided to join North Dakota, Denver University, Colorado College, and University of Nebraska Omaha to form the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The NCHC transition was seen as a little rockier as the NCHC schools made what some in the media perceived as a few unimpressive stumbles out of the starting blocks. One of these perceived blunders was in the NCHC’s attempt to lure Notre Dame to become a member of the six team super conference.
That effort fell short when the NCHC leadership didn’t wasn’t too keen on the idea of Notre Dame having their own television deal – the NCHC was looking at inking their national television deal with a sports network.
Hockey East had no problem with Notre Dame having their own television deal and Notre Dame decided to join Hockey East in October of 2011.
While some fans were perplexed with why the NCHC didn’t look past Notre Dames TV deal the NCHC decided to move on and signed a television deal of their own with CBS Sports Network in the February of 2012. League fans of the NCHC weren’t happy with this deal because many of them thought an exclusivity deal with the NCHC that guarantees at least 18 games was as step down from their current television deals.
In some cases it was.
While the NCHC lost the Fighting Irish, they gained Western Michigan University of the CCHA and Saint Cloud State University of the WCHA.
If your head is still spinning you’re not alone, the college hockey world wasn’t done changing – the remaining schools from the WCHA and CCHA merged into the WCHA – the CCHA which has been in existence for almost 40 seasons the league will disband after the 2012-13 season.
The new WCHA which will begin play during the 2013-14 season will have the following schools; Bemidji State University, Bowling Green University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Minnesota State University Mankato, Michigan Tech University, Northern Michigan University, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, University of Alaska Anchorage.
If you thought the movement was over, it wasn’t. Hockey East with the addition of Notre Dame was sitting at an unattractive and uneven number of 11 schools which makes conference scheduling more difficult. On June 21st, 2012 Hockey East solved that scheduling issue and accepted the University of Connecticut Huskies of the Atlantic Hockey Association. The UCONN Huskies will begin Hockey East play during the 2014-15 season.
With what has happened the last few summers – this season could shape up to be an exciting season of college hockey – especially with a long term labor dispute – college hockey could take center stage.
The CCHA will play it’s final conference tourney of their history at the Joe Louis Arena on March 21-23 in Detroit and the WCHA will play their final conference tourney the same weekend at the Xcel Energy Center under the current WCHA. Old rivalries will have one more opportunity to renew themselves before teams go their separate ways.
There will be many opportunities to watch college hockey on television, if the NHL gets involved a long term lockout and ends up losing the whole season.
No one knows how long the NHL work stoppage will be if the NHL owners lock the players out.
That being said, an NHL lockout is bound to benefit of Division I college hockey. As we get closer to the season a full television schedule will come out and this is especially handy if you have the sports pack on DirecTV where you can watch numerous games in three time zones.
This story orginally appeared at the Hockey Writers.