National meetings begin tonight

The NCAA hockey coaches will begin meeting as a national body tonight in Florida to discuss a wide range of items in college hockey. As always, there are several big issues that need to be addressed and below are three that will generate some discussion. How much discussion? You never know.

1. THE NCAA REGIONALS

Pretty much everyone can agree that the current setup of NCAA regionals is not working. You cannot play the biggest games of the year in front of the smallest crowds of the year. UND’s regional final game against Yale, a contest with the Frozen Four on the line, drew the smallest crowd to any UND game in seven years.

It’s terrible for the players. It’s not good for the fans. And it looks awful on television.

How should it be fixed? That’s something there isn’t much agreement on.

Can ticket prices alone do it? They are certainly charging too much right now. Should they go back to campus venues with the top seed hosting? Should they go to a best of 3 series in the first round or first two rounds? That’s all up for debate.

There are a lot of people against going back to campus sites, saying it gives too big of an advantage to the home teams. I certainly understand that argument. But to play devil’s advocate, are the current sites right now truly neutral?

Under the current setup, we place regionals as close to possible of home sites, and in order to get attendance, places the local team there. Then, we call it neutral. I don’t think it’s as big of an advantage of playing in your home barn, but I do think it’s an advantage (would opposing teams think it’s neutral to play against UND in East Grand Forks or Grafton?).

Wouldn’t it be more fair to let a top seed play at home, rather than a team whose administration successfully bid on a game down the road from home?

I don’t think there are any perfect answers. There are a lot of smart coaches around the country and I’d like to hear some of their ideas.

But I think everyone can agree that something needs to change.

I also think the NCAA knows something needs to change. That’s why, after 2014, no regionals have currently been scheduled. This has been a topic of discussion at the national meetings for a few years now, and it will be as hot of a topic as ever this week.

2. THE PAIRWISE

RPI coach Seth Appert brought up a very good point during the NCAA tournament.

The WCHA got six teams in the NCAAs, in part due to Wisconsin making the big run at the end and grabbing the automatic bid. But Appert pointed out that the six teams that made the NCAAs played 35 nonconference games at home and only 10 nonconference games on the road.

Under next year’s setup, with powerhouse teams in the Big 10 and NCHC playing fewer conference games, they will beef up their nonconference schedule, playing most of those games at home.

Under the current system, a home win counts just the same as a road win. And we all know how big of a role that nonconference games play in the Pairwise. So, the teams that get to play almost all of their nonconference at home are not on equal footing as those who have to play almost all of them on the road.

Should the formula be altered? Should road nonconference wins be weighed differently than home ones? What’s the best way to go about it?

That also should generate good discussion.

3. VIDEO REPLAY ON MAJORS

With the new emphasis on hits to the head, we may see more majors called in the future. At real time, this is a very, very difficult call for the referees on the ice and UND saw this first-hand twice last year.

Andrew MacWilliam was kicked out of two games for hits to the head when replays clearly showed that both hits were clean.

So this begs the question, should refs be allowed to use video replay when they are thinking about calling a major?

The drawback is that it could slow down the game significantly. Nobody wants that.

On the other side of the issue, half of the time, the refs sit and discuss the play for several minutes anyways. Why not spend that time watching what happened instead of guessing?

Yes, different arenas have different numbers of cameras to catch these things. So, at some, it would not perhaps not be possible to get a good look. But if it is possible, should video review be allowed?

Like I said, there are a lot of very intelligent coaches around the country and there will certainly be great discussion on these issues. As info leaks out of there, I will update on it.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the issues?

30 thoughts on “National meetings begin tonight

  1. All three are topics that need to be addressed at a national level, so hopefully some productive conversations will happen! Keep us posted Brad!!

  2. You’re basing your perspective on issues 1 and 3 based upon what UND is capable of, instead of what is possible across all of college hockey. There’s plenty of teams that don’t have games on TV, so how are they going to handle video review of penalties? You can’t create two sets of rules for the haves and have-nots.

    Strongly disagree with you on the regional issue. The regionals in the east do well – it’s the teams out west that simply refuse to travel. We’re going to blow up the whole system just because teams out west won’t go anywhere other than St. Paul or Colorado Springs? The NCAA will never agree to best-of-three, so forget about that. And if you award home ice to the top four seeds, what happens when you get a building that doesn’t have the infrastructure to host a four-team tournament? Or if that top seed loses the first night, and the second night is played in front of 20 people because the fans of the host school won’t show up?

    This isn’t an issue related only to hockey; attendance in the basketball regionals was atrocious as well – and there, ticket prices are the most-cited reason why. If the games are going to be on TV, then you’re going to have to deal with people favoring staying at home and watching all the games instead of traveling and only watching two/three. I think most people would agree that the TV exposure is far more important.

    • As far as the video reviews go, you use whatever angles are available to a certain crew at a certain arena. They already do this with goal reviews. The whole point is trying to get the calls right. At some arenas, you may not get a good view of it. At others, you might. But if they want to use video replay, the reason for doing so is using all resources to get the call right. If the resource is there, why not use it?

      As far as the regionals go, this year, the Providence regional final filled 40 percent of the building. That’s terrible. A year earlier, the Worcester final filled 36 percent of the building. Also terrible. The only reason the east teams “travel” is because most of the regionals are within 2 hours drive. The western teams cannot do that because of how spread out they are.

      The regionals that do well are essentially ones played at home. Example: When UNH is playing in Manchester, N.H., or when Yale is playing 20 minutes away in Bridgeport. We seem to point to these regionals as the ones that work. As I said, we call them “neutral” but are they really neutral? Would Yale or UNH consider it neutral to play vs. UND in Grafton, North Dakota? I doubt it. It seems to me like we are giving advantages to teams based on a bidding process that took place two years ago. If we are going to give teams advantages, why not do it based on performance that season?

      Why wouldn’t the NCAA ever agree to the best of 3 series? It would be more profitable for them. Their costs barely go up to host an extra game or two, but their profits from ticket sales would significantly rise. The NCAAs at one time was a best of 3 series.

      There are no easy answers to any of these questions.

      • I for one would love to see a best out of three. 1) More hockey duh! 2) Better team would win the series and there would be NO more if’s, would of, and could of’s 3) Keeps the NC$$’s pockets full 4) USHL, NAHL, ECHL, AHL, NHL, Major Junior etc all play series of 3,5, or 7… Why limit this excitement in college hockey? I think one of the concerns as to why we lose recruits to the Majors is the lack of games played right.

      • Last years Regional were a joke. Very sad. On TV it looked like maybe 300 people at the regionals. Big difference from the 18,000 that watched the week before in the WCHA final five.

  3. I think the NCAA has to lighten the severity of a major. If the team has to kill a 5 minute penalty, why does the player automatically need to be ejected from the game? The refs should have some flexibility about disqualifying a player. If a game DQ stays in the NCAA rule book, it will hurt college hockey.

  4. Allowing the #1 seed to host the regional puts a greater importance on the regular season. Does it create an advantage? You bet. But it isn’t an impossible advantage and it rewards the right teams (the top 4 teams in the country). I would much rather play a #1 in their packed arena who is deservingly hosting rather than run into Boston College in the backyard in a 2 vs 3 match-up at a “neutral” site. Most other NCAA tourneys start in the higher seeds backyard so I don’t see why hockey should be any different.

  5. Totally agree with a best of 3 for the tourney. If UND fans or any fans know they can go somewhere for the weekend they will pay. It sucks knowning that you could be going home after game one. Plus if it goes to a game 3 maybe more fans from the area would even show up.

  6. Minneapolis/St. Paul needs to host a regional annually, rotating the host schools between UM, UMD, MSUM, SCSU, BSU and maybe even UND or U of W. Huge draw every year no matter the teams

    • I agree with this. If they don’t go to on-campus regionals, then they should have fixed site regionals where there is greater likelihood of drawing fans and to which travel is relatively easy (e.g., St. Paul, Detroit, Boston, etc). That would be more predictable for fans and therefore more conducive for travel. The success of the Final Five has been in part due to it being in the same place every year such that fans know they will be in St. Paul on that weekend in March. Hard to plan to go to Toledo with 5 days notice.

      • agreed since alot of the time the games are the entertainment for the nights on the weekend. The regionals become a weekend vacation and they should be in cities that offer enough things to do to allow people to stay the weekend much like the final five did. You see people from every team at the game because it becomes a destination event. I don’t think the city administrators would have any problem getting regionals in fixed locations free advertising and increaded tourism every year.

        • I don’t like the idea of the Gophers being able to sleep in their own beds every year at the regionals @ the X every year but I do like the idea of giving UND the chance to host it there… Though that would never happen!
          Back to Brad’s idea about Grafton, ND. If even Fargo were to host a regional the entire college hockey world would have a fit but the idea of Yale driving down the road 20 minutes is ok? I don’t have a solution to this problem either but then again I am not a highly paid administrator being paid to do so…

  7. Totally agree with the best of 3 for tourney. If teams fans knew they could make a weekend out of it they could plan that. Plus if it went to game 3 maybe more locals could come out.

  8. The only rule I would like to see addressed is one of overtime.

    They ALREADY play a 5 minute overtime to try to get a winner. If their desired result is to get a a same day winner(thus overtime) then at least play it 4 on 4 NOT 5 on 5.

    There is no reason to extend the overtime format to a shootout. Simply limit the number of players on the ice. OTHERWISE the purpose of a 5 min overtime to determine a winner the day of the game is nothing but a sham to split the points for the game to 1 each.

    Then the better team (best conditioned, deepest bench, most talent, etc.) should prevail. If not then the underdog gets a WELL DESERVED 1 point.

  9. During the game, refs will assess the penalty real-time.

    Video review should be done after the game. Deciding whether a player will be assessed missed games will be based on the video review. A video review could be done even if the referee has NOT assessed a penalty.

  10. So I’m not sure if I understand why a first-round playoff site has to be “Neutral.” What’s the point of winning more for the higher seed if the higher seed doesn’t really give you anything?

    Make the higher seed worth something again and put the games back where they belong: the barn of the team who earned it.

    • Which begs the question: Is it really the team that “earned” it? Or, is it just the 4 teams that some goofy computer system (ie: Pairwise) spit out as a #1 Seed? Be careful what you wish for.

  11. All regionals should be on campus with West & Midwest bid on by NCHC, Big 10 & WCHA. East & Northeast bid on by Hockey East, ECAC and Atlantic Hockey. Regionals bids by conferences on 3 year rotation format. Each conference schools determine host site. For example-
    Year 1 West: NCHC Midwest: Big 10 No Bid: WCHA
    Year 2 West: Big 10 Midwest: WCHA No Bid: NCHC
    Year 3 West:WCHA. Midwest: NCHC No Bid: Big 10

    East & Northeast obviously would use same rotational format. The current system is broken. I would be willing to bet that one of the best attended regionals in recent memory was on a campus site in sunny Grand Forks, ND. The NCAA should use a straight Playoff seeding system. 1 vs. 16 – 2 vs. 15 and so on. The seeding now seems biased and convoluted. Video reviews of major penalties should be implemented as well.

  12. The first two rounds should be at the Higher seeds building….The Frozen four can be where ever. Get rid of the Regionals altogether. The attendance figures will be higher without a doubt.

    Watching the UND vs Yale game there was no atmosphere at that game….it was sad…..

  13. Greg Shepherd, head of WCHA officials, told me that hits to the hiead are the most difficult calls for officials to make. Shepherd said he favors video review of all such hits before penalties are assessed (or not).. Had video replay been used this year, MacWilliam would not have been wrongly ejected from two games. No doubt every team can point to hits like that wrongly called.

  14. Fyi to a post earlier about rules and arenas in that just because games are not televised on cable or network TV doesn’t mean no cameras. In other words there would not be different rules for different arenas.

  15. So I wonder what would happen if they had video review for hits to the head and they reviewed MacWilliam’s hit that wasn’t to the head at all. I feel like although it was a clean hit, the refs would give him a penalty simply because they blew the whistle and reviewed the play. Seems to me on a play like that they could have reviewed it, saw it wasn’t a hit to the head, and just continued the game without a penalty at all.

  16. Brad, I disagree with you more than I agree with you, but on these points you are right on. Most “neutral” sites are not truely neutral, and the ones that are neutral are empty (even if they are out east). The NCAA needs to fix that issue, along with the issue of single elimination tournament. Any team can get hot and beat a better team in one game. IMO, to truely be champions, you should need to prove you can sustain a high level over more than just 4 games. Put a couple best of 3 or best of 5 series in there, make teams prove they are consistently better than anyone else. Plus, how great would that hockey be? Better hockey, more ticket revenue for the NC$$, fans, players all win.

  17. To address the topics
    1) Regionals do need some tweaking with a best of three series offering better atmosphere and increased profits for selling out buildings without a problem but that home ice is an issue. Why can’t the Regionals be a solid rotation? The only issue’s are for the West and Midwest since the teams are so spread out logistics doesn’t compare when you look at the traveling distance in the East Hockey leagues vs the ones out West. You would have to look at having the regionals spread among CCHA, WCHA, Big 10, and NCHC to allow semi-home ice to the top seeds.
    3) Is it at all possible to allow a coach to have plays viewed by the officials sort of like NFL football with a challenge call and just limit the amount of times their is a challenge in a series. The coach and lose their timeout if they feel like the game is slowed or again allow the power for the officials to look at the play. The regional game with Denver was a good example of the officials taking the game into their hands for the right reason. If the call is going to be fair I don’t think fans would have a problem with the wait instead of a bogus bang-bang judgement call that is made out of the corner of an official’s eye.
    *) Overtime needs to be addressed too this 5 on 5 and 5min period just doesn’t promote the excitement that overtime has in the NHL 4 on 4 makes you play mistake free hockey and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole period. I don’t believe a shootout is necessary if there is a change to overtime since there would be less ties.

  18. Don’t worry about having games the same weekend of the Final Four. Give the teams a week off after the conference tournaments so fans can plan a trip if they want to follow their team to the regional. Not a big deal for East teams playing acouple of hours away from home but hard for the fan from the western schools having to travel to a “west” regional 200 miles east of the Mississippi. How can you plan when your team gets placed in a regional on Sunday and plays Thursday. Plus the cost of plane tickets is prohibitive at such short notice. The conference tournaments are successful because they are fun and people know where its goingto be and when, and can plan accordingly. They invest their time and money on that weekend and cannot for the most part do two weekends in a row, especially when the site is unknown until 5 days before. Sometimes you know your team will be slated to go somewhere but many times not.

  19. Keith says the East regionals have good crowds?? is he serious – they are lousy at best. The teams that have the strongest regular seasons should be rewarded by being able to host best out of three series. Current regionals are pathetic to attend, been there done that too many times, and it is an awful way to end a wonderful season of hockey.

  20. The problem with truly neutral sites is that there are truly no one local who are interested in attending. Anyone remember the Frozen Four in Anaheim?

    I don’t recall the numbers off the cuff but I don’t believe it was the best attended. It certainly wasn’t the worst I’ve watched (that honor goes to the one at Ford Field).

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