Updated: July 6, 2011 at 12:00 am
Don’t be too quick to assume rumors that members of both the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Central Collegiate Hockey Association will leave to form a new “super league” will come to pass.
“You cannot assume there’s a new league,” Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph said. “It’s fair to say there have been discussions. That’s about it.”
The reason behind this summer rife with speculation is the new Big Ten league, which opens play with the start of the 2013-14 season and will include current WCHA members Minnesota and Wisconsin and CCHA schools Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State along with newcomer Penn State.
Over the weekend, North Dakota officials told the Grand Forks Herald they are involved in talks “that have progressed beyond preliminary stages.”
On Tuesday, officials from Minnesota-Duluth confirmed they are in the mix. The likely members, if such a league forms, would be Colorado College, Denver, Duluth, Miami, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, Notre Dame (also rumored to be headed to Hockey East), and Western Michigan, according to the Duluth News-Tribune.
“We’ve talked with everyone during the normal course of business about what we can do to make the WCHA as strong as possible,” Ralph said. “Media speculation has caused a flurry of phone calls. It’s fanning the fire a little bit.”
Media reports have said a decision could be made in two weeks or before Labor Day.
WCHA members unanimously voted at their April league meeting to extend invitations that would strengthen the conference. The league also scheduled games through the 2012-13 season.
If the proposed eight-team league comes to pass, it would leave the WCHA with Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, MSU-Mankato and St. Cloud State. Alaska-Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan would be left in the CCHA, which holds its league meetings in August.
Both remaining groups would have only five schools, one shy of qualifying for an automatic NCAA Tournament bid, making a merger into a new league likely.
The rumored “super league” would align schools that spend money on hockey and strengthen the chance of a long-theorized TV deal to rival the Big Ten.
“We want to make sure that no matter what, we are in the best league for us,” Ralph said.
Where current WCHA teams may play for 2013-14 season
Big Ten league (confirmed) – Minnesota, Wisconsin
The rumored “super league” -- Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota
Left behind in the WCHA? -- Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, MSU-Mankato and St. Cloud State