The Secondary Six sent out a press release today officially announcing the formation of their new conference.
First off, unless this conference plays their first game today, it's dumb to send out a release like that on a Saturday afternoon, rather than waiting until Monday morning.
Despite the questionable timing, it's unquestionable that the announcement made a big splash. In fact, a whole one paragraph of a ten paragraph AP wire story made it into the print edition of the New York Times on page 8 of the Sports Page. Page 7 featured a story on Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans harassing Jimmie Johnson on Twitter, so you know, it's probably just bad timing at hitting a big news day. If I have to give up my Secondary Six moniker because this conference adds two more teams, the Page 8s is the new front-runner.
Now that the Secondary Six isn't just conjecture and newspaper reports, the WCHA league office should be free to openly comment on it, and their plan for the future. They didn't.
Northern Michigan is going to be very aggressive in determining their future home in the college hockey world, including meeting with WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod. It's a very interesting development after Northern Michigan turned down an offer from the WCHA just two years ago, and perhaps speaks to the CCHA's future if they don't align with the remaining WCHA schools.
Brad Schlossman discusses of the reasons for the creation of the Secondary Six. I think there's going to be a lot riding on if they can get that deal done with Versus, and maybe more importantly if they can sustain the ratings to keep that deal.
Mike Machnik is an old school college hockey guy, and one of the best in the business and he's disappointed at the direction the game is heading.
Other random thoughts I've had while I mull this over:
-I've heard a lot of discussion that this new set-up could be made to work for the left behind schools if we come up with some sort of magical formula of non-conference games from the Big Ten and Secondary Six to these schools. We'll ignore the irony of expecting those teams to be generous just a day after the announcement they made for a second. There's another huge problem that I've mentioned before: non-conference games suck. As I wrote last August:
It could also lead to a smaller conference schedule, which I know some people may be in favor of, but I don't really like. Playing for percentage points in some convoluted end-of-the-season math equation is a little too esoteric for my tastes. Familiarity breeds contempt, and one of the best parts of college hockey is the intensity and rivalry of conference games. Fewer conference games, plus seeing the same teams fewer times is a double whammy to the excitement of the season.
These teams may still play, and even beat the likes of North Dakota or Miami, but even if they do, who cares? More non-conference games waters down the spirit that makes college hockey so great.
-To expand on my point about the CHL, I was trying to come up with a good example. Ben Johnson is a pretty solid young American player that played a bit with the NTDP last year. Reportedly, he had an offer from Michigan Tech, and was given a "we'll let you know if anything opens up" from Michigan. He ended up signing with the Windsor Spitfires this summer. Last week, I would have said bad move passing up an opportunity to play in the WCHA. This week, it's a little tougher call.
-If Miami and Notre Dame are convinced they can take things to a big-time national stage, why were their brand-new arenas built at capacities of 3200 and 5000 respectively?
-Last summer, multiple people asked me about the potential of college hockey expanding. This summer, multiple people are asking me if all of the current schools in college hockey will survive. That's not exactly the definition of progress.