Future WCHA Members Meet in Detroit Next Week
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
While the nine members of soon-to-be new-look WCHA meets in Detroit next week, a bevy of issues remain on the table.
One will be how to handle Alabama-Huntsville. There will be a lot of discussion on whether the WCHA wants to admit the Chargers as a 10th team in 2013.
UAH needs the WCHA more than the WCHA needs UAH — but it would still be beneficial to the WCHA to have 10 teams instead of nine, not to mention the benefit to college hockey as a whole. And the WCHA is, in all practicality, the only option for Huntsville.
Also, the league will likely discuss the future of commissioner Bruce McLeod. He currently works out of the University of Denver, which will no longer be part of the WCHA in 2013. McLeod said school officials there have been good to him in allowing him to stay, but if the league ultimately decides it wants a change of scenery, McLeod is OK with that.
"I told (the WCHA members) I'm willing to (stay as commissioner), but if they have different ideas on the location of the office, or they want to start fresh and go in another direction, then talk to me about it," McLeod said.
The location of the postseason tournament is a major issue too. The current WCHA plays its tournament at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, while the CCHA plays at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. The CCHA is going away, however, and the WCHA will change dramatically.
As a result, the Big Ten has usurped Xcel and Joe Louis Arena for itself in alternating years. And the teams that will comprise the new-look WCHA probably could not sustain a tournament in buildings of that size anyway.
The NCHC, the other new conference comprised of the WCHA and CCHA's strongest remaining programs, is still waiting to finalize where its tournament will be, an announcement that could come any day. The WCHA will probably announce its move after that.
"I (hoped) we can do it before (the June meeting), but it hasn't worked out yet," McLeod said. "We're waiting for the dominoes to fall."
The league's schedule will be decided, likely to be either 24 or 28 games, as will a playoff format. The main decision there will be whether to include all teams in the postseason or not.
Another potentially sticky issue is how to deal with travel to Alaska, now that two Alaska teams will be in the league. The two Alaska schools each subsidize travel, but the details of the packages were different. Anchorage has historically contributed less to its opponents travel than Fairbanks has.
"The goal is to (have those two schools) get together and come up with something that looks the same," Bowling Green athletic director Greg Christopher told the Sentinel-Tribune. "Right now, it's not quite apples and oranges, but they're not identical."
Not all teams would have to play series in Alaska each year.