Sure I know some NHL clubs are at least sparsely involved in the CWHL, but how much effort would it really take to create something great? Something the whole league could be proud of, a huge leap for women’s hockey across the globe that could inspire other professional teams to follow.
As it stands today, those who can endure all the practices and games beside at the same time working at least a part time job keep on playing in the CWHL after finishing their college carriers, some travel over to Europe to play for a year or two, however there are a lot of players who just quit playing to get on with their lives since there is no reasonable option except recreational leagues. It’s basically the same in Europe and I would guess the rest of the world, many players start playing in the national pro league at 13, 14, 15 years old and continue through high school and college, but that is often the end of the line.
What I really think we need is a change of attitude for a majority of the hockey population who seems to despise women’s hockey for no apparent reason, many who has never even given it a chance or seen a game live. And to change this I think the ball should start rolling from the top, the NHL and it wouldn’t take much resources to pull it off, only some effort and a bit of future sight. From what I could find the Coyotes had the lowest team salary in the NHL last season and if they would contribute only 0.5% of the player budget on a women’s team they would end up with about $275.000, which is a huge amount for a women’s hockey team and that would even open possibilities to give the players some compensation so they don’t have to work full time and that is extremely rare in women’s hockey today.
Surely this would open doors for many players to continue their careers far beyond their college years as well as giving players from Europe something to aspire to reach, many more would give college overseas a try and the gap between USA/Canada and the rest of the world would start closing in.
It should not be a problem to get it cost effective either if teams play within their divisions during the first half or the whole regular season and play double headers just as they do in the college leagues today, building rivalries and making it more worth for fans to go and see their teams on the road as they get two games in a weekend. Then the divisions would battle in a playoff just like the NHL, perhaps a round shorter in the beginning, but anything would be a start!
Of course they should play some games in connection with their NHL counterparts and make deals where you get two games for one if you buy tickets for men’s game so you could go see the women’s game before or after. Also a real professional women’s hockey league would gather the very best players in the world, showing how great women’s hockey could be if they only got the chance. The college leagues feature a lot of great games every season and so does at least the Swedish league in Europe when the top teams face each other, sure they’re not as good as the best college teams but the intensity is just as high. The best games there are every year is the games between USA and Canada, but if we had a professional league with the worlds best there would be so many more games of this caliber.
I don’t know if it just because the leaders of the NHL just don’t dare to take this risk, if they have a world view where women are worth less in sports or if they don’t even think about it as a future source of income.
There is so much untapped potential in the women’s hockey world that should be encouraged to follow their dreams instead of having to give up what they love just because it’s not possible to continue playing due to economical reasons. Sure you can endure working a job, training 3-4 hours six days a week and playing games pretty much every weekend, but it’s not a sustainable for a player expected to play at a professional level as most of our olympians would like to be.
Not so much specific news from Europe this month but I promise there will be a lot in my next blog!
Keep fighting the good fight my precious women’s hockey family all over the world and skate hard!