It was more than two years ago when Minnesota State Moorhead officially announced it was looking at adding an NCAA Division I ice hockey program at a news conference in April 2009.
After an initial burst of momentum in the months following the news, the prospect of adding the sport at MSUM has faded over those two years.
In September 2010, MSUM President Edna Szymanski was quoted in The Forum saying hockey was on the â€œback burnerâ€ at that point.
Itâ€™s time to put Division I hockey back on the front burner at MSUM, or kick it off the stove altogether. If the Dragons are serious about hockey, the time to add the sport is now. The reason is simple: the recent shifting in the college conference landscape.
MSUM may never have a chance like this again.
The 2013-14 school year looks to be the time when the music stops on this conference musical chairs.
Thatâ€™s the year when the University of North Dakota, Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth and Nebraska-Omaha leave the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for a newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference. That same year, Minnesota and Wisconsin are also leaving the WCHA for a newly formed Big Ten hockey conference.
That means the WCHA and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association will both be looking to fortify their leagues with teams, maybe even start-up teams, if both conferences survive the shakeup.
MSUM already has some solid ties with WCHA schools like St. Cloud State, Minnesota State Mankato and Bemidji State, because those three schools are affiliated with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (like MSUM) in their sports other than hockey.
The real million dollar question for the Dragons is do they have the millions (educated guess: $30-40 million) to launch a self-sufficient hockey program.
MSUM athletic director Doug Peters reiterated recently any potential MSUM hockey program would need to be funded â€œpurely on outside dollars.â€
If the money is indeed there (and we are talking a very large chunk of change), itâ€™s time for the Dragons to make their move. The timing may never be better.