Link Round-up: The CWHL and the NHL

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. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Link Round-up: The CWHL and the NHL”

  1. Well put. I too am stuck seeing an opportunity to grow the game financially and resource wise with an NHL partnership but I don’t think forcing the league on others is the way to go. I have always thought finding a way to get more European players in the league is a very smart approach. It can develop and support these players which in turn can bring games on the world stage to a completely different level. That said how does this happen? Hockey Canada and USA Hockey are a good start. What follows? Colleges? Privitsation of teams? Partnerships with businesses? Great jumping off point, hope ideas/options are being fully explored. I love CWHL hockey and would hate to see it leave so how can we grow it?

    1. I gotta admit, I don’t see the league lasting very long as a non-profit. Totally understand why they started as a non-profit, but don’t know that it’s going to be helpful long term.

      I think having a salary for players is going to be *vital* for getting non-North American players here, esp. with visas/etc involved. Would love to see non-North American hockey orgs involved, not just USA Hockey and Hockey Canada. Make the league a place for strong development, not just a place to play between Olympics.

      I also think the CWHL at some point needs to become not just the *Canadian* league. Boston is already odd man out, and I bet a lot of that is because all the big new sponsors are Canadian. Probably would need at least another American team to start getting more American sponsors, but would love to see CWHL or teams go after more hockey gear sponsorships, for example.

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