Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hockey East Bigwigs Take Storrs, Looking To Find a New Bottom Feeder To Replace Lowell

In what is a not entirely unexpected move, Hockey East officials are today making a site visit to the University of Connecticut and the XL Center to evaluate UConn's potential as a 12th Hockey East school, according to College Hockey News just a few minutes ago.  Perhaps seeing Lowell's success HE wants a team to replace them at the bottom of the table.  In all seriousness though and speaking as a fan of the team I'm excited to see this move made and think they are a much more natural fit for the conference than Notre Dame was (if not in terms of competitiveness).

The school's two hurdles to overcome would be adding scholarships (which they would do) and lack of a facility large enough for a Hockey East team.  The Freitas Ice Forum currently holds 2,000 with little room to expand/revamp the building given that it's next to the stadium of the quite popular soccer team.  CT Gov. Dannel (yup, spelled like that, we think it's stupid down here too) Malloy wants the team the play at least a couple years at Hartford's XL Center.  I personally think that would be an awful idea as even UConn's women's basketball team has begun to have attendance at that off-campus venue wane in recent years.  Literally no students would go to the game and as any HE fan knows that is the only way to create any sort of home ice atmosphere and build a base of alumni who will come back to see games once they graduate.  I think that move would kill the program.

As much as I think it would be a ton of money to spend on a team that might not draw anybody, I think the only shot this team has is with a new on-campus arena.  Although this would obviously mean a huge state expenditure, it's a) the only way for the team to have a shot at fan support and success and b) I'm moving to New Hampshire in a month and a half, so am I really too upset at the tax dollars it would cost? (hint: no)

All in all, I'd be happy if it happened, no matter what, but I'm guessing they'll have a rough go of it for the first few seasons unless students really get behind the program and Bruce Marshall turns out to be a very strong recruiter.  Then again, he got this guy to come for a couple years, and they played damn good against the AFA in the AH playoffs this year so I think the future is bright for the program, especially if the school really puts some resources behind them (with the decline at UVM, and relative weakness at UMA and PC.  I also think either UML or the Mack will step back in the next couple years)


  1. I didn't even consider the state expenditures in all this. Considering the opinions of their recent tuition hikes and everything else, I could see them having a very hard time getting support for the construction of a new rink. Maybe they'll need to play at XL a bit to prove that they're worthy... who knows. Nobody from my family even goes to Uconn, yet I always hear gripes about their price increases and whatnot from my parents and the news. I'm not looking forward to hearing about this one.

  2. Yeah it's not a cheap school and new arena or not, I bet the program costs impact tuition and fees in at least a small way.