Thursday, March 26, 2009
Why TPS Covers the NCAA
Recently Dean was asked why we seem to dedicate so much of our live show to talking about NCAA hockey. Afterall, we're based in Edmonton Canada... about a million miles away from the nearest NCAA hockey school, so who really cares?
We're located in what is now a WHL city and our radio home is the TEAM 1260, the rights holder station for the Edmonton Oil Kings. I've been asked before if it's a conflict of interest for The Pipeline Show to be talking about NCAA or the USHL or even the AJHL in light of the fact that all of those leagues could be seen as competitors to the CHL and the WHL in particular.
The answer is No. It is definitely not a conflict of interest and I can assure everyone of our listeners that The Pipeline Show will not cease our coverage of those other leagues. We strongly believe that covering the NCAA, USHL and Canadian Jr.A is what makes us different and that's one of the reasons why it's a priority for us.
The fact that we dedicate a segment each and every week to the NCAA has brought in a lot of dedicated listeners from well outside of the TEAM 1260's broadcast range. We get a ton of traffic to the blog and the main site from listeners south of the border, many of whom tell us that it's great to hear coverage from outside the immediate NCAA media.
Keep in mind what we do here at TPS; we bring you interviews with the players, coaches and media covering the next wave of NHL stars. A large percentage of that next wave comes from the Canadian Jr.A leagues and the USHL via the NCAA. Here are some numbers to ponder:
The last 5 NHL drafts have had this first round breakdown with the percentage being players who were in or have since gone the NCAA route:
2004 – CHL (12), NCAA (7), Euro (11) = 23.3%
2005 – CHL (17), NCAA (8), Euro (5) = 26.7%
2006 – CHL (16), NCAA (7), Euro (7) = 23.3%
2007 – CHL (16), NCAA (11), Euro (3) = 36.7%
2008 – CHL (21), NCAA (4), Euro (5) = 13.3%
5 year average = 24.7%
Going by that, one could argue that 24.7% of our show should consit of NCAA content... right? That said, Dean and I both feel that not covering NCAA, USHL and Jr.A would be neglecting a huge chunk of our demographic including those geographically nearest to us in Western Canada. Confused?
I don't think the general fan is actually aware of just how many Canadians that there are on NCAA rosters. To that end, I undertook the painstaking task of going through every individual NCAA team's roster (according to USCHO.com) and doing the calculator work to find out.
By NCAA Conference, here is what I found: (Canadians/total players)
Atlantic: 82/211 = 38.9%
CCHA: 80/315 = 25.4%
CHA: 60/106 = 56.6%
ECAC: 150/330 = 45.4%
Hockey East: 69/277 = 24.9%
WCHA: 70/260 = 26.9%
NCAA: 511/1499 = 34.1%
Only 3 teams in the entire NCAA have zero Canadian content, those being the military programs of Air Force and Army (for obvious reasons) and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. That 34.1% number of Canadians is obviously a mixture of budding superstars and players there more for the scholarship than a future in the game - just like the Americans who are in the league.
Some will suggest that the top NCAA teams will have less Canadian content because they can draw the top American players and don't have to resort to filling out their roster from the bottomless pool of available Canadians. There is some truth to that - the Gophers don't even have to go outside of their own state to find players, many Minnesotans dream of wearing that big M.
New Hampshire and Boston College only have a pair of Canadians each while both Miami and Notre Dame have just a single Canuck on their team.
However, some of the traditional powerhouse programs augment their line ups with Canadians and typically these are WCHA clubs like North Dakota (52%) and Denver (33%). Often those players are not just there filling out rosters but are playing lead roles like in Duluth this year where most of the top scorers are former AJHL players.
The 16-team National Tournament begins tomorrow and, excluding Air Force, there are 114 Canadians involved which comes in right around 33% of the participants. Here are some notables to watch for:
Joe Colborne & Jesse Martin (Denver), Kieran Millan (Boston University), Ryan Duncan (North Dakota), coach Red Berenson (Michigan), Riley Nash (Cornell), Lee Jubinville & coach Guy Gadowsky (Princeton), Zac Dalpe (Ohio State) and Mike Connolly (Minn.-Duluth). Aside from all being Canadians, another fact they all share... they've all been on The Pipeline Show.
Considering how key NCAA hockey is to players who come from Canada, not to mention their family and friends who want to follow them once they leave, we feel it's more than just an obligation on our part - it's a corner stone of the show.
Next Tuesday we'll be providing listeners with a 1-hour round table discussion previewing the Frozen Four with a couple of TPS regulars in D.J. Powers (Hockey's Future) and Paula Weston (USCHO). The following week is reserved for our annual Frozen Four Coach's Show where we plan on speaking with the bench bosses of all four programs in advance of the pivotal weekend of NCAA play.
Too much NCAA coverage? To be hoenst, since a typical show consists of 4 guest segments and we dedicate one to college hockey (25%), you could make an argument that we're barely doing enough!
Over the last four years The Pipeline Show has delivered pre-NHL interviews with current or future superstars including Kyle Turris (PHX), James vanRiemsdyk (PHI), Colin Wilson (NSH), Jonathan Toews (CHI), Andrew Cogliano (EDM), Ryan McDonagh (MTL), as well as current top free agents Tyler Bozak and Matt Gilroy.
We like to think that that's a pretty good start... but we're far from done!