It is October and we all know what that means, hello hockey season!
This year, the Minnesota Gophers enter their fourth season in what I like to call the debacle that is known as the Big Ten Conference. I've stated in a previous blog post that I am NOT a fan of the Big Ten conference (as I've stated here).
Recently, I came across an article from earlier this year about Big Ten Deputy Commissioner Brad Traviolia.
In reading this article, I don't think Brad Traviolia gets the frustration of Gopher hockey fans (or college hockey fans in general).
First of all, Traviolia doesn't have a hockey background and he admits it. He made this statement in the previously mentioned USCHO.com article from Feb.10, 2016 (Big Ten's Traviolia weighs in....) Traviolia states:
"Coming from a non-hockey background, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine a fan in the state of Minnesota who wouldn’t be excited to see a Michigan or a Michigan State come in to play..."What is he thinking? Does he honestly think that Mariucci Arena is going to sell out for a series against Michigan or Michigan State? Because it is the Gophers, there is going to be a decent crowd there. However, a two-game series against Michigan and Michigan State just isn't going to sell out because there isn't a true rivarly between Minnesota and these two schools. Yes, there is some history between Minnesota and Michigan (with having met in the semi-finals of the 2002 and 2003 Men's Frozen Four tournaments), but these rivalries aren't just going to happen overnight. Rivalries will draw fans to games (i.e. the Minnesota-North Dakota series scheduled for Nov. 4 and 5 at Marriucci Arena).
(Just in case anybody was wondering, Traviolia was a wrestler at Northwestern University).
Traviolia also stated this:
“In a perfect world, we’d have great national success in the early years of Big Ten hockey and it’d be perceived by the vast majority as the greatest move ever...Those things didn’t coincide. I understand that there is some frustration from the various fan bases that see the alignment of Big Ten hockey with the lack of national success that some of our programs are used to having and equate the two."No, Traviolia doesn't get it. He conveniently forgets that one of the most successful and storied college hockey conferences was basically destroyed with the creation of the Big 10 hockey conference. That conference being the old WCHA conference (when it consisted of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State, Mankato State, Colorado College, Denver, et al.) For a school like Minnesota, those games were constant sell outs because of the rivalries between those schools--especially the in-state rivalries and the storied rivalry between Minnesota and North Dakota.
This is coming from the guy who doesn't buy into a theory of " the lack of attendance is that fans simply aren’t intrigued enough with the new conference foes to make the effort to actually go to games." I'll be honest with you, watching Minnesota play Penn State is like watching an exhibition series to me. Penn State is only entering their 5th year as a D-1 hockey program. They have a LONG way to go when it comes to developing rivalries.
Brad Traviolia just doesn't get it when it comes to hockey...and the tradition of college hockey.