Notre Dame to Hockey East Remains Possible
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
BOSTON What is Notre Dame thinking? No one seems to be sure, including Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna, whose league is one of two choices for the Irish according to head coach Jeff Jackson.
Jackson told reporters on Monday at the team's media day that it was between Hockey East and the NCHC.
"It's no secret of the movement in college hockey and there are still pieces to move," Bertagna said on Tuesday at Hockey East's media day at TD Garden. "Factually speaking, Notre Dame and Bowling Green are the only two schools who, I believe, don't have their 2013 league picked yet. One might depend on the other but it's getting down to the point now where we're all waiting for them to make a decision and then life goes on."
For now, the college hockey world waits.
For Hockey East, it's meant holding off on some long-term planning, like the development of its 2013-14 schedule.
"I haven't done my 2013-14 schedule, which I normally would have done by now," Bertagna said.
The bigger domino could come after the Irish make their decision.
If they choose Hockey East, the league would be at an odd number (11) of schools. Bertagna says that ideally, they would move to 12 teams, adding one more, and go with 22 conference games (2 games against each conference opponent) and upping the non-league slate from seven games to 12.
With so much movement out west, including smaller conferences, it would allow for Hockey East to capitalize on the need for more non-league games in other conferences.
"I think every league would prefer an even number," Bertagna said. "You don't want to go into the stretch drive of your schedule with one team not playing on a particular Saturday."
A popular candidate for a 12th team is RPI, which is currently in the ECAC. Connecticut, should it decide to up its scholarships from 0 to 18, was another popular topic.
"We wouldn't ever get to 12 just for the sake of getting to 12," Bertagna said. "Certain schools make a good match and certain schools won't. The desire to get to 12 is not going to lead us to making a hasty decision just for the sake of having 12 teams. It's about what schools can bring us value. If Notre Dame makes the decision it's great, but if they don't we're in a good position of stability and strength so we won't be wringing our hands if they don't come. But, it will give us other opportunities if they do."