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The NWHL is Having a Hard Time: Please Madam Rylan, Do SOMETHING

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Note: I would like to dedicate these lines to the members of the National Women’s Hockey League, the players, managers and staff members and to the league commissioner, Madam Dani Rylan.

You surely didn’t miss this information. On Thursday, November 17, the NWHL announced that a salary cut will ocurr. For me, this news had a devastating effect.


A real women’s hockey league

The first season of the NWHL – which began in October 2015 – brought freshness to the world of hockey. For the first time in professional women’s hockey history, players were paid to play.

The organization looked very strict.

A salary cap, a minimum and maximum wage and total action on the ice. The emerging professionalism of this league was able to attract investors like the Boston firm Dunkin Donuts and some television channels like NESN. The league worked well and the capture of the first Isobel Cup by the wonderful team of the Boston Pride in March, came to complete this first historic and magical season.

But for the last three days, nothing.

Emptiness. Fear. And anger. On Friday morning, opening the news of the NWHL on my laptop, I was expecting highlights of games, interviews of players…

"Salaries in the National Women’s Hockey League will be drastically cut in order to keep league afloat"

That was what I came across.

What can we do?

To maintain its survival, the league had to make a drastic decision : Split the players’ wages by 50%. And since this announcement, many questions arise:

Why now? Will the league survive? Will the players accept? Are we living the last hours of a stillborn league?

To each question its answer. In an excellent article by Jen Neale (which you can find here), you can find a few answers to some of these questions.

My first thought turned to the status of the National Women’s Hockey League Player’s Association.

Why do not the players turn to this organization? Simple answer: the NWHLPA does nothing.

The NHLPA, has lawyers who defend the real interests of the players. Who protects them financially? The players of the NWHL are left to fend for themselves.

My second thought was in the interest of women’s hockey. How could it be that, with last year’s exciting and wonderful season, the affluence in the arenas of the NWHL went down?

I smiled at the Women’s Winter Classic. I was moved by Denna Laing. I screamed at the Isobel Cup final. I was excited about the 2016-2017 season. I was ready to tweet everything that I could with the hashtag set up by the league name #HistoryContinues. But the fact of the matter is: women’s hockey is not bankable.

So what are the possible outcomes ?

I don’t want to believe that once again a women’s hockey league will be cancelled. I don’t want to imagine that this season will stop here. I can’t accept that the sport for which we live, we write about, can be unfair.

Please Madam Rylan, do something.

Thomas Woloch.

Photo Credit : Meg Linehan

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