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Notre Dame to Hockey East? I’m not making this stuff up

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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 …

About Mike McMahon

7 Comments

  1. Ryan D.

    July 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Who uses the term “doofus” anymore anyways?

  2. Mike McMahon

    July 19, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    This guy, apparently …

  3. Nathan Fournier

    July 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Maybe you should send him Larry Mahoney's article from like a month ago to show him you aren't making things up …http://bangordailynews.com/2011/06/03/sports/notre-dame-considering-joining-hockey-east/

    As alway Mike keep up the good work

  4. goalie67

    July 20, 2011 at 6:34 am

    While having Notre Dame in Hockey East is very intriguing…from a distance one has to ask if Merrimack is prepared to compete long term with the big boys. Certainly it looked like it last year. Now we find out for sure if the sucess we all enjoyed watching can be duplicated for three, four or even more years. Ticket revenues were way up last year but they will have to stay up to sustain the Warriors place on the national stage. That has to mean expanding Lawler yet again to become a real college hockey venue. Revenue has to go up from concessions and souvenirs etc. Year in and year out they will have to compete for fans with UMass Lowell as well as the two local AHL teams (Lowell and Manchester). They may also have to recruit and admit enough kids who played in their high school band to form a pep band. Any school that can afford to rent another college's band can certainly afford t o fly to South Bend a couple of times a year. All of these things have to be done anyway just to sustain the sucess and growth of the team so bring on the Irish and their “Pot o' gold”.

  5. bob

    July 20, 2011 at 10:14 am

    The addition of Notre Dame will bring in more money but how long will it be before they want more of the pie? There's a lot of talk over on USCHO about this. If cash is king then when does Notre Dame and the “Big 4 or 5″ in HE decide they would be better off in a smaller league (6 or 8 teams) where there would be more revenue per team? It's not hard to figure out the programs that would be left behind.

  6. […] Notre Dame to Hockey East? I’m not making this stuff up (Warrior Rink Rat)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. […]

  7. Guest

    July 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Have to credit and clue in goalie67 at the same time. Yes, it has to be a concern for Merrimack, if they can maintain Hockey East contender status in the years to come. Regardless of the improvements at Lawler, it will be interesting if they can SUSTAIN the quality of the program there.

    On the other hand, goalie67 should know that the Lowell AHL team packed their bags and left town a year ago due to lack of support, and no one barely noticed. When the new Tsongas arena was built in Lowell, bringing in an AHL team was a stroke of idiocy. UML had a great fan base, and having an NCAA and AHL team in the same building served to split and destroy that audience.

    Merrimack shouldn't worry about splitting fan interest with those who follow UML. The Warriors have a loyal fan base, and the Riverhawks are lucky to get 2,000 in their place on any given night.

    Notre Dame is considering a move to Hockey East, as well as the new group, as well as other conferences. A theoretical move to the East would force the Fighting Irish to travel east at least six weekends a year, which may be the ND athletic department's objection.

    Unless it's proposed that they travel east during the Christmas break — which will not go over well with the Hockey East schools.

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