During last night’s broadcast of the of the Badgers men’s hockey game against Minnesota, the Big Ten Network displayed the graphic above.
On the surface, those numbers seem impressive and they are. However, if you delve into the numbers, the Big Ten’s hockey “legacy” is really the product of just three schools: Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is the first year that the B1G has sponsored hockey and the conference has every right to brag about the teams it has compiled. The league will have plenty of opportunities to forge its own legacy in the coming years. But a disproportionate amount of past success has come from half of the B1G’s schools.
I’m not saying the conference is trying to deceive anyone or do anything mischievous by simply presenting some harmless statistics during a telecast. But it is worth noting that, as of this moment, the quality of the conference top to bottom isn’t what these numbers may indicate.
The aforementioned trio has collected 20 of the league’s 23 national championships, 56 of the 67 Frozen Four appearances, 92 of the 126 NCAA Tournament appearances, 66 of 84 conference championships, and seven of the nine Hobey Baker winners.
In the interest of full disclosure, Wisconsin is riding on the coattails of the other two schools when it comes to producing Hobey Baker winners. The Badgers have just one, while Minnesota (4) and Michigan (2) have the other six and Michigan State (2) has more than UW.
To put the cherry on top, the Gophers, Wolverines, and Badgers are currently the top-three teams in the B1G and the only teams in the league who are ranked.
Of course, conferences fluctuate. This year’s breadwinners can easily become next year’s bottom feeders. Michigan State has a history to be proud of. Ohio State seems to be on the right track with new head coach Steve Rohlik and Penn State’s program is still in its infant stages.
Big Ten men’s hockey has the potential to be incredibly strong throughout. But, it’s not there just yet.