I had a reader send me an awfully nice email this morning about my commentary on Notre Dame possibly joining Hockey East that ran in Sunday’s Eagle Tribune.
And by awfully nice, he so eloquently told me how much of a “doofus” I was for even suggesting it as my own “personal pipedream.”
Instead of responding to just him, because I’m sure there are others like him who feel the same way, I thought I’d reiterate what I’ve said in the past, so we’re all clear:
Hockey East will add Notre Dame if the Irish want to join the league. That’s not me making anything up or being hopeful. That comes from multiple people from multiple member schools. Notre Dame has an open invitation to join the league. In short, Hockey East WANTS Notre Dame.
Now, that doesn’t mean the Irish will join.
There are reports that they are deciding between Hockey East and the NCHC and the decision makers at Notre Dame are split.
But this isn’t something I’m making up or speculating on for the sake of writing a column. This comes from multiple (9) sources who represent seven of the 10 league schools.
I’m not sure if the league school’s unanimously want Notre Dame, but it’s darn close.
It’s all up to the Irish.
If Notre Dame joins the NCHC, the league believes it could land a television deal with Versus. If Hockey East add the Irish, they could be in line for a similar negotiation. At the very least, it makes them more attractive to potential television suitors nationally (CBS College Sports, ESPN-U, etc.).
Those that have suggested Hockey East does not want Notre Dame aren’t looking at the big picture. Yes, it’s called Hockey EAST, but that doesn’t limit their geographical footprint to New England states. Notre Dame brings with it a lot of cash. Cash is king. Notre Dame, theoretically, makes the league more money by expanding its footprint and opening avenues through television and other marketing that wasn’t there before.
The travel cost is another issue often brought up. The travel cost for one trip per season to South Bend? The other league schools would barely notice that. The travel cost almost completely falls on the shoulders of Notre Dame, who would in theory be traveling to New England every other weekend for road games.
Bottom line is that adding Notre Dame expands Hockey East. There is shallow revenue streams that flow into college hockey, and with the formation of the Big 10 trying to drink as much of it as possible, you’re going to need some strong programs to help keep as much of it for yourself as you can.
UNH and Maine are big hockey programs, but they’re not big athletic programs. They’re not Michigan, Penn State or Minnesota.
Let’s say you’re Versus, and you’re negotiating with two conferences for television rights because you want to broadcast college hockey. In Hockey East, from a national perspective, you recognize Boston College. Maine, UNH, BU – they’re all good programs, but in their other sports (hoops and football, the moneymakers) they play in smaller conferences and don’t have recognition.
Then you have the Big 10 with Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State – athletic programs that people know.
Who do you put on television?
I’m not making the argument that Hockey East will definitely win a more lucrative television contract if they land Notre Dame. It’s not a given, but it certainly gives them more chips.
That’s why Hockey East wants Notre Dame.
Believe me, I’m not making this stuff up …