As Team USA and Team Canada hit the ice in Pennsylvania for a joint camp, the PWHPA has taken a break. The Dream Gap Tour, which started in Toronto and made stops in Hudson and Chicago, will resume in 2020. Exact dates and locations have yet to be announced, but we can confirm that there are plans in the works for more stops.
With this break for the Dream Gap Tour, it has given people time to take a look back at a whirlwind few months in the women’s game. Of course, as is always the case, not everyone is happy. Was the Dream Gap Tour perfect in its first run? No, but it was pretty damn good and pretty damn successful. That still won’t stop people from complaining and looking for people to bash.
We aren’t surprised, but of course the crew at The Ice Garden had something to say about it all. They put together a “3 Ups and 3 Downs” piece on Tuesday that outlined some highlights and perceived low-lights from the tour’s first three stops.
Allow me to say, I agree with their highlights. The play was tremendous at all three events, and the attendance and big-name sponsor support was terrific. It really, truly built momentum for the game and the PWHPA.
I would also agree that it was unfortunate that there were no box scores available after the 12 games. It’s unfortunate, but there were ways to find out who scored, who won and to see the highlight goals and saves from each game.
Here’s where I, and a lot of other people, have a problem. The Ice Garden decided to tee off on the New Hampshire venue and the broadcasters at both that event and the Chicago event. As one of those broadcasters, allow me to tell you that I take exception to these claims.
Here’s what they wrote about the New Hampshire venue:
By all accounts, the Sunday event in Hudson, New Hampshire was the worst-attended day of all. A rough estimate puts about 100 people in the stands of Cyclone Arena, located about 40 miles from Boston. This was in stark contrast to Saturday, when the arena was packed full, including standing room around the edges.
I was there on Saturday and yes, it was packed to the brim. I arrived around 10:00 am for the first game (2:00 pm puck drop) and people were already there lining up. I met a few people who had made the trek down from Canada and a number from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and other states who flocked in for the event. Walking from the broadcast area to the interview spot was nearly impossible during games because there were so many people. The place was packed. Yes, the event was attended slightly less on Sunday, but roughly 100 people simply isn’t accurate. That’s lazy.
It begs the questions of why – why play an hour outside of Boston, an area renowned for its thriving women’s hockey scene, and why did Sunday’s attendance drop so much? The first question can most likely be attested to the short planning time frame. Securing ice on such notice can be difficult, let alone the amount of ice they needed.
First of all, you might want to look into facts when it comes to this kind of statement about ‘short planning time’. This event was planned roughly two months in advance, and behind the scenes work started well before that. This wasn’t something just sprung onto the Boston area without any kind of planning or thinking. In fact, The Women’s Hockey Tribune was given a heads up about this before we even launched in August. And let’s not overstate the drive. It was a little less than 40 minutes to get to the rink on Saturday and to get home that night. The drive itself was not bad at all, certainly easier than driving into the mess that has become the city of Boston’s roads. Does driving on a wide open 93 really deter people more than the standstill traffic of Boston? Come on.
The second is related to the first. It’s at least 80 miles round trip from the Boston area to Cyclone Arena. If you live south of Boston, the drive is even longer. Doing that twice in two days can be tough. Having to find lodging comes at an additional expense, which may have deterred fans from making it a full weekend, leading to the sharp drop in Sunday’s attendance. The PWHPA has connections in the Boston area. More foresight in planning this event would have gone a long way.
Foresight in planning? Stop. I already said it above and I’ll say it again, this event was planned before there was even an announcement. This wasn’t something thrown together overnight and it is insulting that that would even be insinuated. It’s a slap in the face to the staff that worked this event, the people that put it together and those who volunteered their own time to make this happen.
Somehow the pronunciation of players’ name started badly and then got worse. In New Hampshire, both the stream play-by-play and the in-arena announced couldn’t pronounce even the easiest of names. The French names? Good luck. At times the issue went beyond incorrect pronunciation and into straight-up inaccuracy for some of the best-known hockey players on earth, like calling Marie-Philip Poulin the wrong name. In Chicago, it got worse, and Twitter took notice. As Dr. Courtney Szto wrote on Hockey In Society, “When names are read incorrectly over the PA system it reinforces the side-show nature of women’s hockey that we’re trying to correct. It feels like women aren’t worth the extra time and effort.” She and Maria Tassone, who is quoted in Dr. Szto’s piece, also point out that the inability to pronounce names hinders marketing as well as visibility.
As someone who took the time to prepare for these broadcasts on Saturday, get to the rink hours ahead of time and personally stop players to get pronunciations, this pisses me off. The PWHPA staff and Jayna Hefford herself also helped me personally make sure names were taken care of. To insinuate that I, or anyone else, approached these broadcasts acting like these women aren’t worth the extra time or effort is a slap in the face. As someone who has called women’s hockey dating back to 2010, it’s insulting.
I can’t speak for who called the Sunday games in New Hampshire or the event in Chicago, but I’ll absolutely stand up for myself here and say that this is a lazy and insulting narrative.
I do find it ironic that the event that took the most flak was the New Hampshire event, which we here at The Women’s Hockey Tribune were sponsors for. Interesting, isn’t it, that the event sponsored by a different women’s hockey website is the one getting bashed? So much for everyone working towards a common goal.