by Kristian Limas
The Terry Pegula effect extends beyond adding a couple million dollars to the Sabres bankroll. Before taking the helm up in Buffalo Mr. Pegula made his first splash in the hockey world by agreeing to fund Penn State's entry into Division I college hockey, and before they can even drop the puck in State College the world of NCAA hockey is beginning to shift dramatically.
With the news that Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota intends on forming a new conference in the wake of the creation of Big Ten Hockey. What's left is the dissolve of both the CCHA and WCHA and what could be a dangerous precedent from college hockey.
On paper, it's a good move. With the departure of big programs like Michigan, and Minnesota from their former conferences the schools left behind had to find a way to stick together and make sure they're not left out in the cold when it comes to bringing in big draws. But past that, how long will it be until they are left by the way side as the bigger and richer schools force them out.
What will be left is a world of haves and have nots that can eventually shrink the talent pool in the U.S.
Now look, Big Ten Hockey was inevitable and no one is accusing anybody of purposefully trying to destroy college hockey but one can't help but feel like it is shrinking.
College hockey is already a bit of a fringe sport, and admittedly it may be a little hard to get excited about big names like Lake Superior State or Michigan Tech, but slowly shutting them out does not really help the game.
What it comes down to is that two separate worlds are formed. A lot of the smaller programs depend on the revenue brought in by the big draws of the more prestigious schools. Let's not forget that hockey is already an expensive sport to fund especially during a time where schools are looking to cut costs left and right.
That is not to say that college hockey will die. Quite the contrary, hockey in the Big Ten and the northern Midwest will most assuredly live on because hockey is part of the culture. Here in New England Hockey East continues to thrive as rumors that Notre Dame plans to join up begin to circulate.
But in the long run what does it do to protect the game? To ensure that it grows? That front looks dim considering that the recent moves has turn college hockey into exclusives clicks. Penn State may be the first Division-1 school to add hockey in a while but what's to insure that more will come?
What's to stop some schools in Hockey East from breaking off and making their own big time conference? Considering the revenue that Boston University and Boston College bring in alone why not just start the Comm Ave. conference and bring in a big TV deal?
That's all hyperbole of course but that's what it feels like. The game is slowly getting more and more exclusive and it will quickly dilute the game.
But for now, let's keep bringing in that cash.