This morning the Ottawa Senators and the CWHL made official what had been indicated on the back of the All-Star Game program, announcing a two year partnership that would involve the Sens hosting the 2016 and 2017 Clarkson Cup Final at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, ON.
According to the press release:
The 2016 Clarkson Cup Final will be held from March 11-13 and will include the CWHL Awards Gala and CWHL Community Day events before culminating with the Clarkson Cup Final.
"This exciting new partnership is a continuation of the Ottawa Senators commitment to investing in the growth of the women’s game in Ottawa and across the National Capital Region," said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. "The Clarkson Cup represents the pinnacle of women’s hockey in Canada and we are proud to bring this event to the nation’s capital."
"The CWHL is thrilled to partner with the Ottawa Senators and to bring the biggest game in women’s hockey to the nation’s capital and Canadian Tire Centre," said CWHL commissioner, Brenda Andress. "The 2015-16 CWHL season has been the best yet and it is fitting that it will see its conclusion on the big stage in Ottawa. It is truly great to see CWHL hockey return to a familiar market in Ottawa and we thank the Senators for their proactive support in making this happen."
The Senators two-year commitment to the CWHL and the Clarkson Cup will not only see the game come to Ottawa in 2016, but return in 2017 as part of the City and Team’s celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary.
The Ottawa Senators become the fourth NHL team to partner with the CWHL, joining the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The CWHL also announces that Kevin Reed has been appointed as the Chairman of the Clarkson Cup. Reed will be responsible for organizing the Clarkson Cup Committee that will be responsible for execution of the Cup weekend.
Intended by former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, to be awarded to the top women's club in Canada, the Clarkson Cup has been awarded to the champion of the CWHL playoffs since 2011. The previous three Clarkson Cup playoff series have been hosted at the Markham Centennial Centre in Markham Ontario.
As well as boasting a much larger arena, Kanata is perhaps a little more central to the five teams. It's interesting to note that an Ottawa team was part of the CWHL until the end of the 2009-2010 season.
This year will also see a change to the playoff format. Previously, all playoff games were hosted at a neutral site. A round-robin tournament held over three days culminated in the Clarkson Cup Final on the fourth.
Starting with the 2015-16 season the top two seeds will each host a best of three Semi-Final series (first seed vs fourth, second seed vs third), with the winners meeting at the Canadian Tire Centre for the Clarkson Cup Final Game.
Both semi-final series will be played February 26 - 28, 2016.
The GTA's two teams, the Toronto Furies and Brampton Thunder, are expected to make it into the semi-final round. Brampton's Jamie Lee Rattray hails from Kanata and is hoping to play in front of a hometown crowd for the Cup.