Players, coaches, management, staff, volunteers and fans of women’s hockey woke up to shocking news on Sunday morning that many hoped was an early April fools day joke. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League announced that it will be ceasing all operations effective as of May 1st. The news came as a shock to the many supporters of women’s hockey as it comes just over a week after a successful weekend which saw the Calgary Inferno claim the Clarkson Cup.
The CWHL, which is made up of six teams, has stated that the board of directors forced the league to shut down operations due to ongoing concerns on the business side as they are having trouble keeping up financially. This of course is an impact on the salaries of all players involved on their payroll.
The news has been heartbreaking for many fans and players alike with many taking to social media to voice their displeasure and hopes for the future. The list includes Rebecca Johnston of the Calgary, Inferno, Natalie Spooner of the Toronto Furies and Marie-Philip Poulin of Les Canadiennes de Montreal. Others who voiced their thoughts include Noora Raty, Alexis Miller, Jessie Vella and Kristen Richards as well as Ailish Forfar and Clarkson Cup champions Blayre Turnbull and Brianne Jenner too.
The response from fans all over has been unworldly as well as devastating as many have voiced their thoughts about the sudden closure of the league. The CWHL has become a source of inspiration for all young girls who dream of playing hockey at a professional level just like they’ve watched their role models do every weekend. The league not only has inspired many but has proven that anyone can play the game.
The closing of the CWHL comes as a shock to players and supporters considering the major growth that women’s hockey has had since its establishment in 2007. Women’s hockey gained tons of publicity over the course of the season now passed as Brianna Decker, Rebecca Johnston and Renata Fast all took part in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in San Jose.
It very quickly became the highlight of the All-Star Weekend in California as they proved to hockey fans all over the world that they are just as good, if not, better then the men. The Clarkson Cup Final in Toronto was also aired live on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and NHL Network where more than 175, 000 fans tuned in to watch the Calgary Inferno beat Les Canadiennes.
Although this is the end for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, women’s hockey will still be in operation but in the states with the NWHL. There has been talk for quite some time now about a potential merger between the two leagues. The NHL has voiced its support for women’s hockey and has stated publicly that it would like to support them.
However, the NHL also stated that they would only do so if there were one league for all to play in as it would be troublesome to support one over the other as its been since the NWHL’s establishment in 2015. The closure of the CWHL means that there could be a potential merger which has been the hope of fans and many players alike as well. With some of the world’s best hockey players now without a place to continue playing the game they love, it is very possible that some of the players may move to the states to join the NWHL.
However, with a limited number of space and the lack of compensation available to the players, many cannot afford to move their lives to play in the states. A merger would mean that the players would still have a place to play the game while it would also see the women’s hockey movement grow stronger under the roof of one unified league.
Hopefully, we will hear some news of a merger with the NWHL in the coming days, but as for now, all we can do is cross our fingers and wait and see what the plan is ahead. It is a sad day for women’s hockey, but it is only a hiccup in what has become an increasingly popular and special movement in sports.