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?