- TitleIX Hockey made a list of things they would like to improve women’s hockey. One of the first things on that list is some acknowledgement from the NHL that the CWHL even exists– linking to the CWHL on NHL.com, putting their stats on a ticker, etc.
- Dan Ryan of Stanley Cup of Chowder posted an article on how the NHL’s treatment of the CWHL is embarrassing. This eventually spawned a petition for the Bruins to partner more closely with the Blades on Change.org.
- The New York Times recently wrote an article that focused on the Boston Blades and their struggle to provide a professional product on a less than shoe string budget which sparked off a lot of this round of the conversation about the NHL partnering with the CWHL.
That’s a pretty small selection of the articles and tweets that I’ve seen flying around. I’m not really sure yet where I stand on this, for a couple different reasons.
First is, I know there are a lot of new fans of women’s hockey/the CWHL this season, specifically drawn in by the Clarkson Cup, and they’re all running smack into the unfairness that is the current state of the league. (We did this too, when we started following the CWHL more closely!) But this conversation around the CWHL and the NHL has been going on for a while, and previous iterations of it is why we have the limited partnerships between the Stars and the Canadians, the Furies and the Maple Leafs, the Inferno and the Flames, etc. So, while it’s not an unimportant conversation to have, I’d like to see a little less ‘but WHY ISN’T ANYTHING BEING DONE’. Maybe the cry needs to be “MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE”, but there is a history here already, too. It can be hard to find as the news coverage of women’s hockey has traditionally waned and waxed with the Winter Olympics, however.
Secondly, I see a lot of aggressive moralizing around this topic. Which, yeah, the argument to be made about why the NHL should support the CWHL isn’t purely a financial one, although I believe there’s a financial argument to be made. But taking a scolding tone, attempting to shame people into becoming fans of a thing, that never works. You’ll get more fans by talking about how awesome a thing is, not how morally correct supporting it is.
Finally, and most annoying to me, most of the arguments I see for why the NHL should partner with the CWHL include as an often unspoken matter of fact that NHL hockey is the best hockey. Partnering with the NHL would provide the manly stamp of approval for the CWHL, as NHL hockey is the best hockey, and guys, I’m just not that into the CWHL needing the validation of a pretty flawed league with few stakes in their success. The CWHL is great hockey, full stop. It’s an entertaining experience, full stop. It doesn’t need the NHL to prove that. Yes, there are resources the NHL has that could help the CWHL– but the NHL is not the only source of those resources, and may not be the best one to provide that for the league’s future growth. Why am I not seeing more calls for a closer partnership with the Hockey Canada and USA Hockey a la the NWSL and the various soccer federations they have partnered with? We want to grow the game so it’s not just USA and Canada as the main event every four years, right? Why not work more with the non-North American hockey organizations to make the CWHL a place for their players to develop past college? It was Janine Weber, an Austrian player, who scored that OT goal for the Blades to win the Clarkson Cup, and she’s been a really solid contributor all season.
Gotta say, though, I love the idea of Stars v. Blades precursor to the NHL Winter Classic in Boston next year. 🙂