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Insider: Keep an eye on the midwest

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Exclusively for our VIP supporters, TMR editor Mike McMahon brings you these “insider” blog posts, where he’ll discuss the news and give some insight and perspective on the stories we’re covering here at The Mack Report as well other insider info from stories around the country …

There have been rumblings for a few years now that several schools in the midwest aren’t entirely happy with their travel schedule. This includes some teams in the NCHC and in the WCHA. I’ve long said I expect there to be more realignment in college hockey, and I also expect more programs to join the Division I ranks, and that next shoe to drop could be coming sooner rather than later.

There have been rumblings that many of the former CCHA schools not in the Big Ten are looking to create some sort of midwest bus league, similar to the footprint that the old CCHA had until its breakup a few years ago when the Big Ten became a reality.

Whether or not this happens remains to be seen, and it’s not something that’s going to happen in the immediate future, but there’s enough chatter about it that I think we will see something like this form sooner rather than later. To his credit, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna has been saying this will happen for years.

If I had to guess, a midwest bus league could look like this …

  1. Bowling Green (WCHA)
  2. Miami (NCHC)
  3. Western Michigan (NCHC)
  4. Ferris State (WCHA)
  5. Mercyhurst (AHA)
  6. Robert Morris (AHA)
  7. Canisius (AHA)
  8. Niagara (AHA)

If they wanted to go to 10 teams, or if Western Michigan balks (they could), I could see them adding Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan or Michigan Tech.

That might open the door for the NCHC to finally take Arizona State and potentially Minnesota State, which has been rumored for the last few years. If the NCHC just loses Miami (who I think would be involved), then Arizona State is a 1-for-1 swap. If Western Michigan jumps into this new league, then they could go after Minnesota State as well.

This obviously decimates the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey. But a bus league for those schools just makes too much sense.

 

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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