NCAA should pull 2012 Frozen Four from Tampa
The city of Tampa, Fla., is scheduled to host the 2012 NCAA men’s hockey Frozen Four at the St. Pete Times Forum.
But the NCAA better rethink that in the wake of what the new ownership group of the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled on Notre Dame and the Lightning College Hockey Classic.
The NCAA should rescind Tampa’s right to host the Frozen Four after the Lightning told the Notre Dame just last Thursday that it wasn’t welcomed to have its tournament Jan. 2-3 in the St. Pete Times Forum. Notre Dame scrambled to find a new home, and it was fortunate that it found a home at the Sears Centre Arena in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, Ill. The tournament, in which Union College will participate, is now called Shillelagh Tournament, and will take place Jan. 2-3.
Union will play the Fighting Irish in one semifinal, while Minnesota-Duluth faces UMass-Lowell in the other semi.
Notre Dame and the Lightning co-hosted the tournament the last two years. But with a new ownership group in place in Tampa, it appeared the relationship between the two quickly soured. When the NHL schedule was released last month, it had the Lightning hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m. The Lightning hosted a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on the second day of last year’s tournament, but that game was played in the afternoon.
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson didn’t mince words in criticizing the Lightning’s new ownership group, which is headed by Oren Koules and former NHL player Len Barrie.
“I am extremely disappointed in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s decision to not continue the tournament,” Jackson said in a statement. “We had a verbal agreement to continue this for two more years, and as hosts of the Frozen Four in 2012, I’m not sure it’s the best message to send to the college hockey community by cancelling the tournament at such a late date.”
Not surprisingly, an e-mail request I sent to the Lightning asking to speak to one of the owners went unanswered.
The ownership group should take a closer look at the Lightning’s roster. They have 10 players who were in college hockey, led by Vermont alum Martin St. Louis. And assistant coach Cap Raeder was once Clarkson’s head coach.
What this ownership group did is make enemies with college hockey coaches. If I were a college hockey coach, I would refuse to give Lightning scouts a pass to come to a game to scout players. If they want to scout, make them buy a ticket.
Better yet, the NCAA should hand out the ultimate punishment to Tampa. It doesn’t deserve to host the 2012 Frozen Four anymore. The city can thank the Lightning’s new owners for that.