Hockey East targeting UConn, invitation could come in June

Say what you want about Boston College, but they're damn good at hockey and UConn appears to be on the verge of joining their league.

UConn and Hockey East have entered into serious negotiations about the Huskies joining the conference, and an invitation could come as soon as next month according to the AP. Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna told the wire service that the Huskies aren't so much a target of the league as they are the target of the league:

"Our attention is pretty focused on the University of Connecticut. There are other institutions that have had casual conversations. But I think it would be disingenuous to suggest that there is someone else, that our conversations are this far along."

I could offer to read between the lines of that statement for you, but I'm not sure they are even lines to read between, as it looks like UConn will be heading to Hockey East barring a surprising turn of events. UConn officials are on board as well. Connecticut governor Dan Malloy has made no secret of his desire to see the Huskies join the nation's premier hockey conference and new athletic director Warde Manuel told the AP he's on board as well, calling the chance a great opportunity.

The logistics of the move seem to be in place already, with Manuel saying that the Huskies would start off by moving Hockey East games off-campus to Hartford's XL Center before looking at updating the on-campus Freitas Ice Forum down the road. Here's Manuel:

"It would be starting off playing Hockey East games in XL and then looking down in the future at what we would be able to do for a campus facility as well. "Whether it would be new or renovated, it would be where the hockey rink is currently in that Freitas footprint."

Statements like that lead me to believe that UConn has looked at the costs of upgrading hockey (the school had a consulting firm look into it and published the results last month) and decided it is a price worth paying. XL center officials are on board as well, so if all goes well at next month's meeting of Hockey East schools it should be smooth skating ahead.

The move also fits in nicely with recent public statements by Malloy and Manuel expressing a desire to resume serious competition with Boston College. If the governor and the athletic director are making unprompted public statements in the same voice you can bet there is a coordinated plan behind it, and joining Hockey East is an easy way to reopen the connection between the schools. And not to put too fine a point on it, but better relationships between UConn officials and BC can only increase the chance that this isn't the last time UConn joins the Eagles' conference.

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