Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Important Off-Season for WCHA

My plan is to spend as little of my summertime as possible in front of this thing. But on my way out the door, I thought I'd take one last look at some of the issues with WCHA expansion. The WCHA will be holding it's annual meetings in Florida beginning April 27th. WCHA Commish Bruce McLeod made a fairly extensive set of comments earlier in the week to the Bemidji Pioneer Press when he was touring their facilities.

I think he's said some pretty nuanced things which are certainly worth analyzing. I'll start with the least interesting part, when asked "Does the WCHA have a strong application from BSU?" McLeod said, "Yes, we do,” and then added,
"Quistgaard emphasized and showed us in black and white of the commitment that the institution has to the program, both men and women, and I’m sure that message will be loud and clear to all of our constituents in their presentation on the 27th.”
Far out; pretty much just garden variety political nice-speak . I don't think anyone reasonably familiar with College Hockey would doubt whether Bemidji "fits" with the other programs in the WCHA. They're as good a "fit" as anyone already in the league.

McLeod makes the challenge clear with his observations about scheduling saying,
“I have put together an 11-team 28-game schedule for three years out. You can put it together. … But there’s no model to it. I have yet to figure out a way – I’ve been in NHL offices, every place I can to try to find some model that works with some fairness, some balance to it and I have yet to come up with it. It’s not fair to the institutions that are in the league right now, that they have no idea what their opponents' schedule is going to look like from year to year. It has no recognition of traditional opponents we have in the league.”
The important stuff here are the last two sentences. Conventional wisdom says that when Minnesota, Wisconsin or UND come to your barn then you're likely to sell more seats. More than one WCHA school actually increases their ticket prices when these programs come to town to play. An extra team in the league means that Minnesota, Wisconsin and UND ain't coming to any rink as often. McLeod is recognizing that schools like DU, CC, SCSU and Mankato don't want to lose that "prime" date. They will lose money. McLeod is publicly recognizing the fairness issue in scheduling here. He knows that cluster-fucked unbalanced schedules that use faux-rival set-ups aren't a good solution.

So the next thing that Bruce talks about is a 12 team league. And here's where he gets all subtle. He said,
“Obviously the answer to an 11-team league is a 12-team league. We are doing a lot of homework in that area. … There are some interests. I can’t mention them, but there are definitively possibilities for us but we have to come up with the right circumstances, the right way to approach, etc. etc.”
I think nobody should underestimate what this means. I think McLeod is clearly saying that a solution which results in 12 teams is the preference. Bruce goes on to intimate that pushing back any decision to a later time is probably an option that everyone will agree to while they figure it out. It's a bit of an assumption but perhaps the "approach" of dropping the league schedule from 28 games is in play? With a 12 team league you can drop the number of league games down to 22 instead of 20 and leave it up to the individual schools to maintain their rivalries as they see fit using the extra non-conference games. I think there are measurable positives for pretty much every WCHA program to favor reducing the schedule when considering expansion.

Don't be surprised if it all turns out pretty much like that. It just as easily might not, they'll have to lure another school into joining or perhaps some other entirely different creative solution will pop up. Folks down in Fargo/Moorhead think they have a solution. They've apparently got alumni with big bucks just waiting in the wings to fund a hockey program at Minnesota State-Moorhead. The catch is that they want in the WCHA. These rich alumni aren't interested enough to start a hockey program and join Bemidji in the CHA. But if they can opportunistically swoop in and get in because the WCHA is trying to do it's part for college hockey then they step forward? They're even waving Dean Blais' name around as their coach. He's currently coaching a USHL team across the river so they must have got him onboard.

I'd hope the WCHA would find Alabama-Huntsville a more suitable team than Minnesota State-Moorhead. UAH has a long standing firm committment to the college game. They have as good a fanbase as Bemidji. They deserve to find a conference home just as much as Bemidji. I find the Moorhead proposal distasteful for it's opportunism.

A twelve team league with a 22 game conference schedule would be a great thing. An 11 team league with a 20 game conference schedule would be fine. Either 11 or 12 team league with a 28 game conference schedule is fully beyond even being unappealing.

As a UAA fan I don't want to play Mankato four times a year much less Bemidji. Every UAA fan would rather have the flexibility to play our only real rival 4 times a year. The UAA and UAF tournaments would be more than happy to invite a couple of WCHA schools that otherwise wouldn't get the NCAA exemptions. Playing each opponent in the league only twice would enhance the competitive nature of those games. Every fan of every school would get to see every team once every two years in their barn. Completely and totally fair. And wouldn't it be nice if the Seawolves could travel to some tournament outside? Reduction of the league schedule MUST be part of the expansion debate.

I'm sure there are some legitimate concerns for certain schools in a reduction. Mankato, SCSU, UMD and CC in particular might have a more difficult time finding non-conference games than UAA, Tech, Minnesota, Wisconsin, UND, and DU. Tech can easily pick up the majority of the extra 8 games with Michigan schools. They already use pretty much their entire non-conference schedule on in state "rivals". Minnesota, Wisconsin, UND and DU are "premiere" opponents for any rink to host and always juicy non-conference opponents for an eastern team that wants an RPI boost just by having them on the schedule. UAA has the exemption. Plenty of non-WCHA schools would love to get a series up here and get the gate from the two extra home games they'll be able to schedule.

The Minnesota schools could easily set-up something like a "Beanpot West/Governors Cup/Dairy Queen Cup" tournament which would help fill UMD, SCSU and Mankato's schedule. They've all been dying for something like that down there for years. They could do that with a 20 or 22 game conference schedule.

Don't think for a moment that I don't know I've been droning on and on about this subject the last few weeks. I know I have. I just wanted to make one more effort to put out there what I believe is a solid workable soltuion for the scheduling problems.

Now here's a reward for everyone that read this far down.


64 comments:

Suze said...

Very distasteful pic Donald. You disappoint me.

Anonymous said...

Great pic Donald! I applaud you!

seawolvesfan said...

hope your blog doesnt get blocked now here at Service

Anonymous said...

I don't consider that pic a reward. If others do, good on them but sorry Donald, it's a little disappointing.

Anonymous said...

I am very dissapointed donald, I thought you were a better person.

Anonymous said...

The coaches have also proven to be disappointing, particularily after today. Too bad. They had more bad moments this year than good.

Donald Dunlop said...

-- "particularly after today" --

What happened today?

Donald Dunlop said...

Suze:
I would classify that picture as racy. The question of taste is a relevant one. As with my words here I always give due consideration to such things when posting a picture.

There are more than a few things I do here that disappoint individual readers. And I do already edit myself to the extent that I am able.

So once in while there'll be a racy pic here. Just as once in a while there'll be some Sarah bashing. And of course there is my proclivity to drop more than a couple of "f-bombs" ...

Perhaps at the first game next season I'll buy you an ice cream in an attempt to appease that disappointment.

Anonymous said...

I'll take the pic over your political drivel anyday

Anonymous said...

Building a players confidence -not stripping it is what the coaches should be doing. That's what happened yesterday. Yet again.

Donald Dunlop said...

Well that really clarifies it.

Jeff said...

I'm a Pens fan so that pic is awesome in my eyes!!!

seawolvesfan said...

"Very distasteful pic Donald. You disappoint me."

So are you still grounded DD?

And, that NCAA Championship game was FREAKING awesome, better in my eyes than when Wis. beat BC.(remember with .5 left in the game a D from Boston let go of a wicked backhander off the boards and it hit the post) Seroiusly, 2 goals in 42 sec. left in the game, amazing finish. The game winner went off a D blocking the shot and it was a pop-fly into the net. Too bad the NHL still hasn't signed with ESPN.

Jimjamesak said...

--What happened today?--

Exactly what I'm wondering. The only thing I've seen is Tuton being named Captain, how is that bad?

Anonymous said...

DD-
Continue with the Sarah bashing plz! As far as the pictures go, it's your blog. You can do what you want. If it's offensive to some, then let them find another blog that compares to this one. It just doesn't exist.

sitkafan said...

Jimjamesak
Tuton, even though was a walk on, is one of the hardest working players on the team. While some people believe that the best player should be the captain, that doesn't automatically mean that they will be a good leader.
Notice the last sentence-
"All four captain appointments are voted on by the Seawolf team with additional input from the coaching staff."
Matt Robinson was not a huge point getter, yes, he was a defensemen, but remember Chad Anderson, he was a scoring defensemen, but again, its who is the best leader, not the best player.

Donald Dunlop said...

Being named a captain of a D1 team can affect a players game on the ice in a negative way.

Luke Beaverson was a fine captain however the year before he was captain he scored 5 goals and had 4 assists. As captain he scored once and added 2 assists.

When Kronschnabel was captain he scored only two goals after averaging more than 7 in the previous three years.

Captains often have the responsibilities of their "job" on their mind when they're on the ice. Clark and Lunden don't need the distraction from their primary job which is to get the puck into the next.

As assistants they are still team leaders etc.

sitkafan said...

Has UAA ever had three assistant captains before?

Anonymous said...

TO: Donald a explanation is not necessary, they are all good choices, clark will lead the troops some games, tuton other, more important as a group of leaders they must establsh early that every game is important to win. The team is coming back with 8 seniors and 8 sophomores and 2 proven goalies. The never quit attitude to the final buzzer is what this team needs to establish.
Looking forward to next year. This group will be the best leaders on and off the ice we have seen in many years.
Go seawolves

Fan

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, Tuton was one of the few players who didn't break team rules in Denver, and was named interim captain this past season when the others had their titles stripped from them.

He is a good role model for the team and an excellent choice.

seawolvesfan said...

Congrats Tuton, walk-on to captain is great. He's a great role model, and has played on all situations so he's going to get even more ice time which is great for us and our FRE/SOP's

Anonymous said...

Let's not worry about who is and who is not captain or assistant.
The team and coach have chosen the leaders, let's get the home series and win the wcha title. Clark and lunden, and grant will all pop 20 goals each next year, we will have 2 good goalies and one of the toughtest teams in the wcha.
Go seawolves.

Fan

seawolvesfan said...

http://www.nhl.com/ice/app?service=page&page=draftprospectbrowse&cat=1&sort=finalRank&year=2009&pg=7

Wes McLeod's final rank: 200 in North American Rank

Anonymous said...

Wes Mcleod on powerplay with backstrom. Forward clark, grant and lunden. Might me interesting.
Go seawolves.

Fan

seawolvesfan said...

With Alex Stalock off to San Jose's AAA club, the Defending Broadmoor Trophy winners will be even weaker as they have NOBODY in net/also lost MacGregor Sharp due to graduation, MGG doesn't have Jordan Schroeder, ND doesn't have Ryan Duncan, Denver lost Pat Mullen due to graduation/and lost Tyler Bozak, Wis. lost McBain, CC lost Brian Connelly, MSU lost Trevor Bruess, so we have to find our team early and pounce on the slighty weaker opponents in our league

sitkafan said...

Also on the final ranking was future Seawolf Spencer Bennett at rank 142.

seawolvesfan said...

thanks man
?(woman?) i didnt see that(tired)

Anonymous said...

To the annonymous person who said:

"Continue with the Sarah bashing plz! As far as the pictures go, it's your blog. You can do what you want. If it's offensive to some, then let them find another blog that compares to this one".

You are correct, this is Donald's blog and he can do with it as he wishes. Let's not forget that in having a UAA blog, it is a reflection of the University and the team. Lik it or not, it is.

Jimjamesak said...

I think some people misunderstood me, I never said anything about Tuton being a bad choice, far from it IMO, so I don't know where all the talk came from.

Anonymous said...

You don't mess with the Donald. I still think that Clark should have been Captain of the UAA Seawolves. Go Wolves! Get some glory in 2009-10.

Anonymous said...

Tuton was the right choice for Captain. I know Tuton was not one of those suspended. Was Backstrom? I am not sure those who were suspended in the Denver incident should have been rewarded with an A. Team leadership and all.

seawolvesfan said...

http://community.adn.com/adn/node/140523

Anonymous said...

The curfew issue should be left in the past. It damaged our chances for home playoffs.
Tuton is now captain, clark, lunden and backstrom, will work with him to make this the most successful team in the history of uaa.
Plan for next year, don't live in the past.

Fan

Anonymous said...

Bales is Bailing? WTF???

seawolvesfan said...

Update on Curtis Glencross' first playoff game, a heartbreaking loss when Chicago scored in 12 sec. of overtime. He went =, 0-1-1, his only shot led to the first goal of the game. and nice to see the commentators talking bout former #82 Seawolf. They said that they are liking him more and more as they see him, and saying that he is playoff material. They called his name a dozen times(and I only got to see the game with 8 min. left) He had 11:12 of even strength time and 1:57 of SH time for 13:09 OVR. Hockey is a small world: Glencross plays with Rene Borque(WIS) and Jordan Leopold (MIN) and face-offed against Jonathon Teows[(ND)Blackhawks.

Donald Dunlop said...

I hadn't heard that Bales was leaving. Give us some more info if you have it.

seawolvesfan said...

"Bales is Bailing? WTF???"
Where the hell did you hear that?

Anonymous said...

where did you hear that about Bales? More info please!!

Anonymous said...

TO ANON 4/15/09 7:26 pm

This is an individual's personal blog not endorsed or supported by the University of Alaska or the team in any way. It is one person's opinion with other bloggers adding comments.

How can it be a relection of the university or team? Do you see entries made by players or coaches? Um....no. That's right - entries are made by people like you and me who not connected to the university or hockey program in any way.

Perhaps it is a reflection of some of the FANS of the hockey program but certainly not a reflection of the university or hockey team. There's a difference there.

Anonymous said...

When Brian Bales came to the program he was told he would recieve scholarship money his senior year. That did not happen and Bales has decided to leave the hockey team. Losing both Crowder and now Bales 16 points is a loss. Also a player with local ties.

Donald Dunlop said...

That's a shame all-around and you're right it is "a loss". It's unfortunate both for Brian and the school. Bales was especially effective in the neutral zone this past year and was one of the top playmakers on the team. I hope he is close enough to his degree that he can finish it up next year even though he isn't playing hockey.

Anonymous said...

Losing Bales is one thing, losing him due to a broken promise is another. He is local kid and the staff totally disses him. WHAT kid from Anchorage will ever want to don a Seawolve sweater, ever?

Anonymous said...

IF that rumor is true about Bales leaving, and the reason for his leaving, I'd say the coaches, the AD, or whoever made this decision has really screwed up big time.

Sounds like a Talafous blunder.

Anonymous said...

Let's just hope this is a rumor that he is leaving. If he is leaving, then I hope the reason given on this blog is a rumor as well. I can't see any coach "promising" scholarship money and not giving it to the kid unless the kid screws up royally which to my knowledge Bales has not. Was Brian told that there MAY be money for him his senior year??? That translates into something very different than he was PROMISED money. Whatever the reason it sucks losing him. I hope this is clarified as this "rumor" could certainly be a black cloud over the program for the future.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I was wondering, was money promised or was it just a possibility? Or was it promised continigent on Bales on ice performance? That seems more likely.

Still, it looks worse for Bales than it does for UAA. Remember, Brian left Bowling Green as well.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you that the school has not been very helpful at all. Dealing with the school advisor has been an absolute joke.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anonymous postings could come from anyone. I can't think of any reason that someone would falsify something like this though.

But because it is anonymous I'm not in a position to make a good judgement. There are two perspectives involved. If the anonymous posting has any veracity then indeed the program would seem to have fucked up.

I'm not a journalist but I really wish people would email me with this sort of thing instead of posting anonymous comment. I certainly would communicate fairly with the person and follow up with the program to get it's perspective before posting the info.

I try not to be a blind defender of the program but I cannot move forward with an anonymously posted rumor.

So I invite the anonymous poster to email and share the details. If they do then I'd certainly protect their anonymity if they choose. Then as I said above, I'd follow up with the program and make a full post covering the story fairly.

Otherwise, it just remains "rumor".

Suze said...

Brian has been in college for 4 years, he may have all the credits he needs for graduation (or will with a couple summer school classes). Maybe he was just sick of school? It certainly wouldn't be the first time this has happened.

seawolvesfan said...

GOLD RUSH ALASKA!:

http://community.adn.com/adn/node/140673

Anonymous said...

seawolvesfan

who cares those guys are going to denver not uaa.

Anonymous said...

Just two more guys for clark, grant and lunden to skate circles around. Plus clarkie will fill the net like he did against stalock.
Why alaska players do not want to build uaa in to a power house is beyond me. Trupp is in und, not showing much. Hometown players would be noticed. Shyiak will build a team without them.
Good luck to them though.

Fan

Anonymous said...

If Bales is leaving then it was not a planed jetison. Thats an issue. Especially because he is from Anchorage. There are 2 Alaskans left on the team hopefully they will have good things to say about there treatment and experience when they graduate. I think Bales was the best passer on the team or damm close.I am hoping that Bales doesnt leave because The program over the last 20 years has not been good in this area.This effects ever single thing with Seawolf Hockey. No matter what anyone says the Graduating player that stay in the community are who? The Alaskans. Nothing would seem more important than having ex players/Coaches supporting things rather than being Bitter and trashing the program at every opportune time. Wouldnt it be nice to have a place where every single Alaskan player dreams of playing for the Seawolfs. Just a thought.

Donald Dunlop said...

An awful lot of graduating players from other places elected to stay in Anchorage after playing for UAA and are still here.

UAA won't start getting many of the highly sought after Anchorage kids until it shows consistent winning against the DU's of the world.

What do you think the first words out of a recruiter from DU is? "Our schollie is worth 40,000 dollars a year" and the 2nd is "We've won 5 national championships"

The top elite kids from Anchorage are going to choose UAA for one reason. Because they want to help the team they grew up watching succeed.

That's the kid I want playing at UAA. Until then Shyiak and staff seem to be finding some quality kids that WILL take us to the next step. That will bring out the regional pride and those local elite kids will want to come here.

Trupp, Murray and Wrenn are the latest highly touted recruits that didn't choose UAA. It isn't like there's a boatload of highly touted kids coming from here. 1 to 2 a year is about it. Maybe 3 in a good year.

Kids are also going to want to leave this remote state where they've lived their whole lives to see something else of the world. Bales chose Bowling Green over UAA. Ever seen where Bowling Green is? Gorham chose Ohio State? Ever been to Columbus? Notice how both of them ended up back here? They're not the first to find the grass wasn't greener on the other side.

I know Shyiak, Blair and Simon recruit every D-1 caliber player from Anchorage. That's all they can do. It's up to the kids to come.

If someone leaves the program and badmouths it then I can just hope that most people take that with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

Denver has 7 NCAA titles.

Donald Dunlop said...

5 ... 7 .... same difference. ;-)

Anyway, 5 of them were before 1970. :P

Anonymous said...

Clark had 8 d1 schools after him, he choose alaska, if uaa players think they are top end talent, than stay and play with the clark's, crowders, lunden and grant. Beagle, lawson and others have gone on to succeed. If you want to win titles, alaska players should stay and win titles in Alaska. Good players can play anywhere and succeed. The top junior players that came here, were top players on their respective teams. Und and denver did not win national titles until they convinced there home grown talent to play for them.
Uaa will have one of the best teams in the league this year. These players have been togethr 3 to 4 years now.

Fan

Anonymous said...

"I know Shyiak, Blair and Simon recruit every D-1 caliber player from Anchorage. That's all they can do. It's up to the kids to come."
Donald, you don't know that to be true, and I can tell you it isn't.
There have been a number of '88s, '89s and 90's that haven't gotten a sniff from UAA, and they're still viable D-1 candidates.
You rarely catch a glimpse of UAA coaches in the local community. Local hockey associations don't get the time of day. Hopefully Derek Donald will help rectify that situation and make UAA coaches realize that even if they don't recruit local kids, they need to be presence in the community. It's one area where the Aces kick UAA's butt. It shouldn't be that way.
But I digress. It won't be long before there are zero local kids, and UAA is dominated by BC and western Canada kids. Fine and dandy, but is that what we want from the local university that had so much pride in the local kid making a splash.
There are many more than you think who could play here, less that get recruited, and way less than even get talked to or a letter sent their way from the "local" university.

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon:
I would love to get every D-1 quality kid from Anchorage onto the team. But I don't want to sacrifice competitiveness to do that. Unfortunately, I think the Division 1 community shows a slightly different story.

In all of D1 hockey there were 18 kids from Anchorage last year (one of the lowest numbers in years). Of those 18 ... 8 were seniors.

There may be a lot of kids in Anchorage that have a "shot" at D1 hockey ... but very few if any each year are necessarily WCHA-calibre.

Looking at the list of the 18 current players ... I see 3 perhaps 4 names that I would have wanted for UAA.

I believe in local kids and think Anchorage is one of the quality hockey hotbeds in the U.S. I know a local kid can elevate his game in front of the hometown folks and that sort of local hero is exactly what I'd want to see happen. But the dynamics of D1 just don't allow that to happen.

The next three uncommitted local players that I see as UAA targets are Rapuzzi, Strahle and Rall (and the rest of the WCHA knows that too). Beyond them, yes I agree there are other kids that have potential. But I'll tell you right now that nobody in the WCHA is probably recruiting them.

This problem of getting the best local kids to stay here is nothing new so solving it isn't going to happen overnight. Win first. I think that will help.

Anonymous said...

"Hopefully Derek Donald will help rectify that situation and make UAA coaches realize that even if they don't recruit local kids".

What does Derek Donald have to do with it?

seawolvesfan said...

for those who don't know already, Derek Donald has joined our athletic department

http://www.goseawolves.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=13400&ATCLID=3725813

Anonymous said...

Thanks seawolvesfan! Derek has a very important job, and this was a step the University needed to take - and should have done it several years ago!

Anonymous said...

Nice article in the ADN about Derek Donalds new job with the University. Wow, $60,000 a year - he better get to work!

sitkafan said...

With the economy the way it is, Anchorage having the Aces and the Wild, it will be a whole lot harder to get sponsors, and fans. I sure hope he knows what he is doing.

Anonymous said...

Derek Donald is a welcome addition to the seawolves hockey program.
Increase customer base and corporate sponsorship is important to the long term success of this team.
All the best with the 2009-2010 team, the team is ready to host the first round at the sully.

Fan

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