Faster than Clayton Keller, but not in a league. That doesn’t matter to Kendall Coyne Schofield who will be one of 20 players to showcase women’s hockey at the annual NHL All-Star Game.
Women have been involved in the all-star festivities for the last three years and have taken part in various skills competitions against the men. 2019 offered an eyeopening experience for many as USA hockey forward Coyne Schofield put herself on the map as one of the fastest players in the game, regardless of gender. Her success alongside the status of the current women’s hockey situation has led the NHL to increase the female quotient to 20 for their annual showcase.
There are 10 players from Canada and 10 from the United States who are set to feature in the showcase. One goalie and nine skaters will play a 20 minute (2×10) game of three-on-three with a running clock as an event within the Skills Competition, one of the two which will include the female players.
While having an event of only women is a welcomed development, there are some potential problems that it could present. When the women players were included in the men’s events, the audience draw was still there. Many fans only saw Coyne Schofield tear her way around the ice because Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid was in the same competition. Without having the public draw of NHL stars during the women’s event, it will be interesting to see what the viewership number on both television and in the arena will be through those 20 minutes. If people stay tuned, they will see the elite skill of some of the best women’s players, but if they leave their TV sets, the women’s game may not get the boost it hopes for.
The players, as listed below were selected by a group of hockey greats which included hall of Famers, Cami Granato, Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford.
There is a lot of intrigue upon the players selected. First of all, is the exclusion of players from the NWHL. Nothing official has been said, but the disregarding of the American pro league is an interesting point. As Justin Levine spoke about, the PWHPA has been growing in popularity and has been the preferred route of many fans of the women’s game. With the selection, it is becoming clearer of which side the NHL stands with; that being the PWHPA.
Cami Granato spoke to the media about the selections and was asked about the exclusion of NWHL players. “Obviously, there is a lot of great players not there because of the numbers and the fact there is only 20, but that was my whole premise is, let’s pick the best teams,” she said. “And quite frankly, (the PWHPA) is where they play. Whether there is more to look into than appears on the surface is a mystery, however, it is clear that they selected the best of the game, most of whom find themselves in the PWHPA.
Although there are not any NWHL players, there are two players who are not regular members of the PWHPA. Canada’s Meghan Agosta is a full-time police officer in Vancouver, BC, but is supportive of the PWHPA movement.
Alex Carpenter, on the other hand, still finds herself in regular game action, although not in North America. She has been playing for the KRS Vanke Rays Shenzhen in China who competes in the Russian Women’s Hockey League. While the best players in the game may not be there, she has lit up the league scoring 45 points through 20 games. She supports the boycott of the NWHL by not playing in it, but has chosen to pursue game action in China rather than the PWHPA movement.
Having Olympic stars, international jerseys, nationalistic pride and the stage of the NHL All-star weekend, women’s hockey is being thrown right into the spotlight, giving them a fantastic opportunity to promote the women’s game in front of thwarts of hockey fans.
When: The NHL Skills Competition will take place on Jan. 24 at 8:00p.m. ET/ 5:00p.m. PT from St. Louis, home of the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions.