Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bemidji and the WCHA

This isn't exactly ground-breaking news, but the Bemidji Press wrote an article saying Bemidji State will be forced to drop hockey if they aren't accepted into the WCHA by May 2008.

The CHA won't be around much longer, and if those teams can't find a conference, they will all likely be forced to disband. Hopefully the WCHA finds a way to allow Bemidji into the conference. They're a strong program, that is centrally located within the conference, and have proven on numerous occasions that they can compete with other WCHA programs. It would be a shame to let a team like that just fade away. It would also take away 18 scholarships from potential college hockey players(Yes, they currently give out less, but I'm guessing a full allotment would be a condition on joining the league). Compared to the alternative of maintaining the integrity of an artificially created 10 team cap, it seems like a no-brainer to let the Beavers into the league.

For what it's worth, it sounds like the WCHA will probably be open to helping out Bemidji. WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod was on Fox Sports North last weekend, and mentioned that there at least basic discussions going on about whether or not the WCHA would want to expand to 11 or 12 teams, if they expanded. It's a small step in the right direction, given that the WCHA's party line for a long time has been "we're not at all interested in expanding past 10 teams".

The talk about 12 teams is interesting, because as of right now, there doesn't seem to be a potential 12th team anywhere on the horizon. The WCHA could absorb a western CCHA team like UNO, or there's even the outside possibility of the University of British Columbia being allowed into the NCAA and joining the WCHA.

Air Force is a geographical fit, but I don't seem them fitting into the WCHA. First, AFA is interested in playing in a conference with Army. Second, travel costs aren't as big a concern for them since flying in cheaper for them. Third, I don't see a service academy being able to compete in a league where every other team is drawing future NHL talent.

Hopefully the WCHA can get something worked out this summer. May 2008 may seem like a long time, but that is only 15 months to come up with a solution.

18 comments:

Goon said...

Bring on UNO and BSU.

gmf1a said...

I am sorry for Bemidji but the WCHA does not owe them a spot.

The league has to play an unbalanced schedule with just 10 teams ... two more just does not work.

Surely Bemidji has a backup plan or can callo on the NCAA for help ... oh wait I actually said NCAA and help in the same sentence. My bad.

Anonymous said...

The Big Ten should just start their own conference they don't need smaller schools.

Anonymous said...

If they end up with 11 or 12 teams, I think it might be a good idea to have 3 games a season against most teams. The non-MN schools could easily play @ 2 MN schools in a weekend.

I'd rather see 3 games against most teams instead of 4 against a couple and 2 against the rest. That would make it easier to get each team to each arena in a season.

How's the CCHA do it?

BobC said...

Anon. 9:47, the CCHA uses clusters of 4 teams each. The cluster-mates play each other 4 times a year, then play the other 8 schools twice each season, along with non-conference play.

dggoddard said...

Bemidji shouldn't be allowed into the WCHA at this time. The WCHA is the best conference in college hockey, but to allow a "welfare case" like Bemidji will only weaken the conference.

Who says the CHA is breaking up? Yes, everyone wants out of the conference but they have nowhere to go.

Bruce McLeod shouldn't be shooting his mouth off on national television unless he's certain that his opinion accurately reflects the views of the member schools, not just Minnesota.

The best course of action is for the CCHA to say "no" to Wayne State & for the WCHA to stall Bemidji until the Canadian sitution become clearer.

If down the road, Bemidji builds a 5,000 seat arena, fills the barn occasionally, and no other schools join college hockey, then the WCHA could reopen talks with Bemidji.

Siouxnami said...

I sure would rather see the CCHA, WCHA, and CHA re-align into 3 conferences of about 8 teams, where the WCHA could lost a couple of teams that in all fairness, will never be at the level of the rest for an extended period. Further 3 conferences of 7 or 8 allows for new teams to join conferences and could restore 2 series against all oppontents. I would like to see a CHA of existing teams, Mankato, AA, UNO and maybe 3 other CCHA teams, because that in and of itself could evolve into a meaningful conference.

Anonymous said...

Just say NO. Bemidji does NOTHING for the WCHA but waterdown the product. No thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Why would Minnesota or Wisconsin ever want a big ten league? How many fans would travel to Mich. or OS to watch their team. Not many would be willing to make a road trip to these states. That's the great thing with the WCHA, for the most part the teams are located within short driving distance. Also, if the gopher and badger rubes think that it would make a better league, they are mislead. The WCHA is the best league in college hockey because of MN and WS, but also because of ND, SCSU, CC and Denver.

Anonymous said...

Well that was a close one. We had gone almost a week without someone implying wrongdoing on the part of the Gophers. A big thank you to dggoddard for his accusation that McLeod is Minnesota's sock puppet.

Why would Minnesota be any more in favor of Bemidji's application than UND which has developed a rivalry with BSU? Or UMD who also has a proposal for a new arena? UMD and BSU could take "quid pro quo" approach with the state legislature strengthening both cases. Someone on USCHO said other Minnesota state schools may want BSU's help to get their Division I/II houses in order. So every team in the state may have reason to support Bemidji's application.

In a vacuum I would oppose Bemidji's entrance into the WCHA. But doing so likely means the death of another Division I hockey team and that should not be acceptable to college hockey fans. In a year where even the WCHA cellar dwellers have been a thorn in every teams side, why think Bemidji won't be able to build up their program and compete?

ron said...

Strength of conference should not be an issue. In fact, conferences worrying about their individual strength undermines college hockey as a whole.

Lets worry about bringing the level of hockey up as a whole so that more schools will want to join and more players have better opportunities here than in juniors. Not whether the WCHA will have 7 spots or 6 spots in the NCAA Tournament.

Chris said...

I'm really surprised, and frankly, a little disappointed, that people are so willing to sell a pretty decent college hockey team down the river, simply for the sake of keeping a slightly less unbalanced schedule.

Bemidji played 10 games, or about one-third of a WCHA schedule, and ended up at .500. And that's with fewer scholarships than they would have as a WCHA team. There's no reason they wouldn't be competitive.

The point is, the WCHA, and the other major leagues can't stall any more. The CHA will lose their automatic bid soon because they just don't have enough teams, and their model doesn't work for expansion. A big school doesn't want to join a conference with other small schools, and small schools can't afford the cost of joining the league.

dggoddard said...

Chris,

No one's selling Bemidji "down the river." They weren't ever on the river and from the sounds of it they can't afford a boat. Now they want the WCHA schools to throw them a life preserver.

ron said...

This is simply a case of the have's wanting to have more. Unless it benefits their RPI, they wouldn't want them. If Bemidji had a 22-5-1 record and was 7th in the Pairwise, this would be a non-issue. In fact, they'd probably be looking for a reason to boot Minnesota State if they could.

Bemidji has 60 years of hockey. Denver has 57. Being a name school 50+ years ago certainly has its advantages. Being a D-III team making the leap to D-II then being forced to D-I while remaining competitive certainly has its merits.

This sort of mentality of not building up college hockey as a whole will hurt the game in the end.

Anonymous said...

Its not just Bemidji either. Here's what Bill Wilkinson told CSTV's Elliot Olshansky
" We're getting close to the end of the wire here, and we've got to get people off their chairs and making decisions that will help college hockey in general. We need some programs and some leagues to step up and say, `We're going to help.'"

Anonymous said...

Fans of Colorado teams don't get "it." I'd say UND, UMN, UMD, MSU, and SCSU are all for getting BSU into the WCHA. They know the quality program and product they put out up there. Now they just need that new arena and they'll be set.

Boo to fans that would rather have Canadian colleges in the WCHA than Bemidji State.

Almington said...

I'd like to see how DU (or any other school) would do in BSU place.

BSU has done everything they can to be a success in the CHA, the CHA has failed, not the member schools. I think that the loss of 2 or 3 schools would be enough for the NCAA to consider dropping the tournament back to 12 teams, which would cost the CCHA, HEA, and WCHA each one bid per year on the average.

If the WCHA expands to 12 teams and moves to a cluster system like the CCHA, each current WCHA team would lose ONE home series with MN every TWELVE years.

I have no problem with BSU being admitted to the WCHA under the following conditions: BSU recieves no WCHA tournament revenue untill 2015 or their new arena is constructed, which ever comes first and pays the required league annual and entry fees.

Anonymous said...

I say BRING ON BEMIDJI !!!

Yes, they should be allowed to enter the WCHA; especially if we can get one additional team to join in the near future.

Goon actually had a great idea. UNO and BSU.

Let's do it!

PatsyHill