TopOfTheCircle.com

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March 8, 2015 — The CWHL at a crossroads

Yesterday, the Boston Blades defeated the Montreal Stars 3-2 in overtime to give Boston its second Clarkson Cup in the past three years. The game ended the eighth season of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, an offshoot of the National Women’s Hockey League, which ran for eight seasons beginning in 1999.

The game should be remembered as a high point for the nascent world of professional women’s ice hockey — a Boston vs. Montreal derby match, plenty of veteran Olympians on both sides such as Hilary Knight and Julie Chu. In addition, the league put on an all-star game in Toronto that brought more than 7,000 spectators to the Air Canada Centre.

But the fact remains that there are only five teams in the league at the moment, the players and coaches aren’t paid nearly as much as their counterparts in men’s pro hockey, and the home rinks of the five teams are small local rinks rather than professional arenas.

This, despite the fact that the players in the league are from the two best women’s hockey nations — Canada and the United States.

Yesterday’s title game represented a final swansong for a number of players in the league; it’s been known that the player pool for the next Olympics — especially for Canada — is going to be a much younger group than the team that competed in Sochi.

I just hope that there’ll be enough money and sponsorship for the league to thrive and expand. The women who put on such a great show for Olympics and IIHF World Championship honors deserve a robust league.

 

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