Readers of The Only Colors have known my feelings on the B1G hockey conference and the strong disdain that I have for the league offices. Whether it is the league idiot Brad Traviola saying he "isn't a hockey guy" while trying to defend the league trying to change hockey recruiting. Or it's the worst league tournament in all of sports being played in front of tens of fans. I have written in the past that one of the biggest things that could help the B1G not be so terrible is league expansion.
Well on Tuesday night it appears that the league will soon have more than just six members as Jimmy Connelly broke the news of Notre Dame leaving Hockey East for the B1G in 2017-18.
This obviously is pretty dramatic news for the B1G as a whole and not just to the hockey members. The B1G opened the door to sports exclusive members when they allowed Johns Hopkins to join the league and participate only in lacrosse. Still Notre Dame, long believed to be sought after by the conference as a full member, joining the conference is a pretty dramatic turn of events. To MSU, UM and OSU fans it means the return of an old CCHA foe to the league.
So what does this mean for the future of the league, near and far into the future?
- Future Expansion- This move leaves the league with an obviously not too much better member count at seven. The league would not confirm that they are seeking an 8th team to join in 2017-18 with Notre Dame but that obviously is likely. The biggest speculation will revolve around Arizona State, playing their first full season as an NCAA Independent next season, joining the league. This move will open that possibility more as the Irish certainly have opened the door to allowing a hockey only member. It is likely far off from PAC 12 hockey being a thing so Arizona State could be a safe addition. Arizona State is a better option to be a full fledged varsity B1G member in 2017-18 than any other member schools.
- League Prestige- Notre Dame unlike the addition of Arizona State helps the profile of the league. Notre Dame is an NCAA tournament team this season, and has been pretty consistent under Jeff Jackson. This move helps move the B1G from a league with two premier programs (the UMs), a riser (PSU) and three struggling schools (MSU, OSU, UW), to a league with a pretty competitive top three.
- TV Contract- The Big Ten Network has been making less of an effort to televise hockey, a possible show that they are unhappy with ratings. Notre Dame will bring with them a TV contract on NBCSN and could bring some nice leverage for the league to expand their offerings.