The NWHL hasn’t been able to provide the kind of sustained professional women’s hockey league that the great athletes of this sport deserve. Time is up for them to provide that kind of league. The NHL is now on the clock, it is time for the biggest and best league in the world to step up and support the women of hockey. With the PWHPA building momentum with the ‘Dream Gap Tour’, the time is now for the NHL to step in and make a real impact.
The NHL realizes that now is the time to strike. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the chief insider of the famed Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts, the NHL is making plans behind the scenes for a women’s hockey league. The league is not commenting on this publicly, and sources we reached out to had no comment on this major development in the women’s game.
The league is expected to be a six team league that would featured potentially two Canadian teams. Speculation has both Toronto and Montreal at the forefront of potential Canadian cities to house a team. As for other markets, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Buffalo would likely be at the forefront of the conversation.
Quite frankly, this kind of venture by the NHL is long overdue. The league has made some contributions to the women’s game, but it isn’t nearly enough. The small financial ‘gifts’ given to the NWHL and previously the CWHL are simply not enough. The NHL has the ability to back a women’s league and give it the platform it needs to succeed. Gary Bettman has a template to follow as well. He should look no further than his mentor David Stern, who helped form the most successful women’s professional league in North America, the WNBA.
Where this goes is anyone’s guess. The best thing for the women’s game would be a league with the actual backing of the NHL, a league that provides women with a livable wage and promotes the game on the NHL’s media platforms. If a league backed by the NHL is in fact formed, we should be seeing games on networks like NHL Network, Sportsnet and NBCSN. An NHL backing opens so many doors.
It slipped through the cracks on a Saturday night right before Halloween, but this bit of news from Friedman is truly a big damned deal. It proves that the PWHPA is getting the message across and it is proving that people are taking notice. The NHL putting these plans together is a major first step. It’s just that, however, a first step. Gary Bettman can leave a lasting impact on the sport of hockey forever if he does the right thing and helps bring a sustainable league to life.
Come on Mr. Bettman, this is your time to shine.