I'd chalk this article up to "wishful thinking".
Last year - the guys left behind in hte CCHA reluctantly joined the WCHA after:
1) they wer left behind by Miami (Ohio) and Westrn Michigan (who joined the NCHC, presumably for a more lucrative TV contract), and
2) the western-most teams in Atlantic Hockey decided to stay put, ratehr than move west into what remained of the CCHA.
Without 1) or 2) being reversed, there is no critical mass for a re-bron CCHA. Has something changed ? Or are the writer(s) just day-dreaming about "what if ?"
I understand that some of those teams face much more travel to Minnesota (they were already making one trip / year to Alaska), but such is life in a sport so thin on teams out west.
Yes, in an ideal world, we would put the 2 Alaska teams and Air Force into the NCHC, and move Miami and Westrn Michigan to the WCHA.
Geoography is important in hockey, where travel is a major expense, and TV / ticket revenue isn't that substantial.
Teams that are a bit isolated:
2 Alaska schools and Alabama-Huntsville (can't do much about that)
Notre Dame and Air Force (in east coast conferences by choice)
BGSU, Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan (at the very least all would be in WCHA and would have other Michigan schools (some way up north) as conf. mates).
I think it's more than wishful thinking, but nothing has really changed: the behind the scenes maneuvering has been going on for two years. There are at least three forces in play here:
1) BGSU desperately wants - and needs - to get out of the WCHA. Their travel costs will go way up (i.e., replacing trips to Miami, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Michigan State, and Michigan with trips to Huntsville, Anchorage, Mankato, Bemidji, and Houghton), while their ticket revenue probably will go way down, due to the same replacements for home games. Most schools outside the state of Minnesota don't have enough hard-core hockey fans to fill their arena, so they rely on casual fans to fill seats; but casual fans are often only interested in seeing big name schools and regular conference opponents, none of which are currently in the WCHA. As of now, BGSU is the only school with a D1 athletic program stuck in the WCHA with nine D2 schools playing up in hockey, meaning they won't often (or ever) be playing those schools in other sports, so they will be unfamiliar to casual fans. (Except for Huntsville, all of the other WCHA schools have at least one other school from their main conference, which helps them some, but probably not much.)
2) The NCHC is somewhat lopsided, geographically, with Miami and WMU in the east and the other six schools much farther west (Minnesota and beyond). This places a heavy travel burden on Miami and WMU. I believe they play a 24 game conference schedule (6 home series, 6 away), which means Miami and WMU each play one away series in the east and five in the west. Obviously, more schools in the east would reduce that burden.
3) Several AHA schools (e.g., Robert Morris, Niagara) apparently want to play full scholarship hockey, but are limited by the AHA (to I believe 12 or 13 this season). They could perhaps join the WCHA, but are turned off by the travel distances and hard-to-reach locations.
I think the obvious short term solution would be to add BGSU to the NCHC, and perhaps also one of the AHA schools, say Robert Morris, to make it an even 10. This would give each of the four eastern schools three away series in the east and three in the west. In order for this to happen, WMU and especially Miami, would have to strongly support it.
I do not agree with your "ideal world" scenario. As a rule, I am opposed to any hockey realignment that puts full D1 schools in a conference with lower division schools; and for that reason I consider the NCHC an abomination in its present form.