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Chat Live With CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos!

Welcome to the CollegeSports.com moderated chat room! On Tuesday, February 15 at 4:00 p.m. EST, Central Collegiate Hockey Association Commissioner Tom Anastos will make a special visit to chat about the CCHA and college hockey in general. Commission Anastos' visit represents the 12th installment of the "Tuesday @ The Rink" chat series, presented by CollegeSports.com and USCHO.com.

At The Rink

Anastos, named the fourth commissioner in the 34-year history of the CCHA on March 18, 1998, is recognized as a 'difference maker', whose administrative, business and communication skills, combined with a myriad of connections throughout the hockey world, provide progressive and dynamic leadership for both the conference and college hockey.

Anastos serves as President of the Hockey Commissioners' Association that addresses common issues and concerns at a national level. The group's efforts have included a developing rapport with the National Hockey League's corporate office in New York, increased college hockey coverage in The Hockey News and sponsorship of the annual IceBreaker Tournament.

Television has been a focal point for the CCHA under the guidance of Anastos. The conference was the first in its' sport to sign television agreements with College Sports Television (CSTV) and Toronto, Canada-based Leafs TV. He has been instrumental in expanded media coverage of the CCHA that includes college hockey's only conference television show, CCHA Weekly on FSN Detroit, and a weekly radio show, Inside the CCHA, that has widespread distribution.


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About the CCHA
Tom Anastos Bio

Prior to his appointment, Anastos served as president of the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior league, for four seasons. During that time, the NAHL attracted strong ownership groups and developed into one of the top leagues for college-bound players in the United States.

An active member of USA Hockey, Anastos is one of two NCAA representatives on the organization's board of directors. He is also a member of USA Hockey's Junior Council, which guides the direction of junior hockey, as well as the International Council, which oversees U.S. international programs.

Anastos was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan State (1981-85) and graduated with a bachelor's degree in construction management. While he was at MSU, the Spartans won four CCHA Championships and made four NCAA Tournament appearances.

While Anastos won't be stopping by until 4:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 15, feel free to sumbit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!

CollegeSports.com Moderator: It is time for the anchor leg of today's Tuesday @ The Rink. And for that, we are joined by CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos.
Tom Anastos: Great to be here. I've been reading the previous chats today. It looks like I've got a couple of tough acts to follow.

Philly: What do think of the underachieveing Spartans this season? Do you think they will make it to the NCAA tournament?
Tom Anastos: Nothing like starting off with bang! Well....I know its been a challenging season for them so far, on all fronts, the coaches, the players and the Spartan fans. The team seems to be trying to find their way and have had a difficult time generating consistent offense...and when that happens, its very difficult to play with great confidence. As we sit right now, in order to make the NCAA tournament, they need to have a very strong finish and make a strong run in the CCHA Tournament. Of course the other way to get in is to win the Tournament, which earns the champion an automatic berth.

Pete (Providence): Tom - thanks for joining us, its great that you would take the time. Last week, Joe Bertagna talked frankly about expansion in Hockey East. Does the CCHA have thoughts or plans to get bigger - are there schools you wish had D-I hockey programs and what would it take for you to look?
Tom Anastos: Right now we really don't have any plans to expand. Expanding beyond our 12 teams would be very difficult, however, I would never close the door on keeping an open mind. Having said that, I would love to see a number of schools add hockey, especially in some of the established big-time conferences throughout the country like the PAC 10, ACC, etc. While its probably not on their radar screen today...it would great for our sport if it happened sometime in the future.

Adam (Chicago): With the demise of UIC, there are no D-I hockey schools in Illinois. Has any school in the Chicagoland area expressed a recent desire to add D-I hockey. I have always thought that Northwestern, Depaul or Illinois would add D-I hockey. What about Valpo in NW Indiana?
Tom Anastos: Unfortunately no...not to my knowledge anyway. Actually, its kind of disappointing that we don't have a Division I member in Illinois, as the state is home to one of the largest youth hockey programs in the United States, and also has a number of junior programs. I hope that someday we might be able to generate some interest from one or more of those schools that you mentioned. As far as Valpo is concerned..again, I'm not aware of any interest from them either.

E.J. (Akron): With some Big Ten teams forming the heart of the CCHA, is it a concern that other Big Ten programs (Penn State, Illinois) going D-I would cause a split in the CCHA?
Tom Anastos: Frankly, its really never been a topic for discussion within our conference. The Big Ten teams who sponsor hockey and participate in both the CCHA and WCHA are major contributors and bring significant resources to Division I hockey. I would welcome additional schools from the Big Ten into college hockey as I think it would great for our sport. How that could potentially impact the CCHA would be purely speculative at this point, so I would welcome the growth.

Mario (St. Paul): What do you think the biggest differences are between the game you played 20 years ago and the game on the ice now?
Tom Anastos: Wow! There are lots. First, I think the talent is higher, deeper into the roster of each team. Second, I think the coaching across the board is way better -- with more sophistication in both pre-scouting and video analysis, which allows teams to be much better prepared for each game. The advances in equipment -- and I don't just mean the size of goalie equipment -- has really impacted the game. Its very, very difficult to generate a quality scoring chance today. Goaltenders are cut from a much different mold as well. 20 years ago, goalies were more commonly small in size, and had great quickness. Today, the quickness is the same as before, but their size, along with the size of their equipment, is substantially bigger. Its really difficult to score today. And finally, the way the game is called today is much more liberal than the game 20 years ago. I also think that players play with more of a recklessness, which makes the game more difficult to officiate.

Phil (Columbus): Has there been any thought of having the Super 6 rotate sites?
Tom Anastos: Actually, we are currently in the final stages of a process to evaluate our Championship Tournament and potential host sites, and as part of that process, we are examining all of the potential options that are available to us. A rotation is certainly one option to consider.

Ken (Columbus): Do you think that the CCHA will be at a disadvantage in the NCAA tournament because it has taken the obstruction changes to heart more that any other conference?
Tom Anastos: Not at all. In fact, I don't believe that the CCHA has taken the NCAA obstruction initiative to heart to any greater level than what was directed by the NCAA. We have worked closely with the NCAA and the other conferences all season long to try to remain on the same page to extent possible. And while you could certainly make a case that on any given night you could see some form of inconsistency or variation in standard from league to league, that's really no different than any other year. That's always a challange we face across the country. I think our teams have adjusted very well, and I'm also pleased with the commitment and effort of our officials. Frankly, I really think we'll have a good representation of our staff selected by the NCAA for this year's tournament because of the job they've done in holding strong to the standard all season long.

Arthur (Ypsilanti): With Yost as one of the poster-arenas for bad fan behavior, what do you see the league's role in regulating fans? How do you address that without destroying the atmosphere that makes college arenas so special?
Tom Anastos: That's a great question...and a great challange. We've been working on this subject for a number of years throughout a number of venues in our league, with a number of different strategies. Obviously to date, we haven't found the magic solution yet, but we'll continue to work with schools directly to attain the environment that we can all be proud of. Its definitely a big challenge we're faced with.

Barry (Chicago): Do you think the influx of junior players into the college ranks is good or bad? Doesn't it make hard for a high school kid to get a good shot at the ice?
Tom Anastos: I think junior hockey has been really good for college hockey. The players come into the college ranks very prepared and in many cases, step right in and become contributors early in their career. As for high school hockey, depending on what market you're referencing, I still think there's room for high school players...and although it may not be typical to move directly from high school to college, junior hockey is a good step to help in the process.

Shane --Syracuse: Tom, Do you ever see a chance for reform on eligibilty issues concering age? As a player that went to college at 18 (I think you did as well), the idea of my son putting off college for 2 years does not appeal to me. I think that a compromise for a player's 5 years of eligibility starting at 19, rather than 20, would be a good thing for student athletes. Your thoughts?
Tom Anastos: You raise a really interesting point. You're right, I did go to school when I was 18, and while it did take me some time to physically mature, I'm glad that I did go when I did. I think each situation is different, and some kids are better prepared than others when they are 18. There are so many issues to consider...from physical maturity, to social maturity, to skill level, to academic strength, etc. As for new legislation, I'm not aware of anything new out there. Frankly, I could probably make a strong argument to support both the current situation, as well as the one that you raise....

Joe B. (Boston): Tom, if you had ten breakaways on Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna, how many goals would you score? Be careful. There may be a suburban rink near Columbus in April that could host a challenge.
Tom Anastos: Nine. I would build up his confidence on the first one, then make him suffer the rest of the way. Sounds to me like the Hockey East Commissioner doesn't have too much to do today.

Nate(East Lansing): Will Michigan make it to the Frozen Four?
Tom Anastos: Michigan has another excellent team, and certainly has the potential to get there. But as you know, it takes lots of good play, and good fortune in a one-and-done format to get to the Frozen Four. I think there are a lot of teams that can get there and win the NCAA Championship this year. Michigan is certainly one of them.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: That is all we have time for today. I knew there were a lot of questions we didn't get to. Thanks for all of them.
Tom Anastos: It was great. Thanks for having me...and thanks to all the folks at USCHO and CSTV for hosting this, as well as to all the fans for there continued interest and support of college hockey!
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Don't forget to join us again next week for another edition of Tuesdat @ The Rink with our guests - USCHO Bracketologist Jayson Moy and CSTV Analyst (and Tuesday @ The Rink veteran) Dave Starman. See you then.

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