clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Women’s Hockey Wednesday: Women’s hockey has a media problem

New, comments

The mainstream media and the leagues need to do a better job of making sure coverage happens.

Around the Games: Day 15 - Winter Olympic Games
Toronto Furies defender Sena Suzuki (center) meets the media in Pyeongchang, along with Team Japan teammates Haruna Yoneyama and Chiho Osawa
Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Story of the Week

Olympic athlete rips news media for coverage - Olds Albertan

Her Own Person: Talk about female athletes, not their male relatives - The Ice Garden

There needs to be more media coverage of women’s hockey. There needs to be better coverage of women’s hockey. Girls need to see women’s hockey reflected in the media.

It’s a long-standing refrain, and this past week Brianne Jenner’s comments brought the discussion back to Twitter. In a speech at Olds College this week, the Olympian and Calgary Inferno forward talked about how the Canadian news media always rehashed the same questions, and contrasted that with the more detailed and hockey-focused questions she got while playing NCAA hockey at Cornell University.

A number of bloggers (Annie and I included) echoed Jenner’s frustration. We’ve all been in scrums where the mainstream media people show up because it’s a major event—the draft, the Clarkson Cup Final, the All-Star Game—and they either ask questions both the players and the bloggers have heard a hundred times before, or questions to which they should already know the answer. They often expect the local bloggers to supply them with information, or have a narrative they’re interested in pushing and their questions are slanted to suit the story they want to write.

I’ve already written about how proper women’s hockey coverage needs to cover women’s hockey like a sport and not as a series of human interest stories. The other side of the coin is that fans and bloggers (again, myself included) have often complained about a lack of transparency from both the CWHL and the NWHL. Since the NWHL’s fabled Toronto team has yet to materialize I have no experience with covering the NWHL and I’ll stick to the CWHL.

Fans seem to expect that when the CWHL comes out with information, it will be in-depth and detailed, the same sort of thing you’d hear about on Hockey Central when the NHL does a press release. The problem with that is that a lot of the detail that goes into what’s reported on TV isn’t straight from the NHL press release. NHL beat reporters and NHL “insiders” talk to players, coaches, GMs and other sources to flesh out the story. It’s true that things like the NHL CBA are publicly available for the enterprising fan or blogger to peruse, but for instance, a lot of teams still don’t release salary amounts when a player is signed—it’s up to the press to do some digging.

It’s true that the CWHL should go more into detail than it does when it makes some announcements, and there are sometimes issues about timing, or things going up on Twitter before an official press release goes out. It would certainly be helpful if practices like the existence of the 25 player roster and the 40 player roster were written out somewhere that was more broadly available. But there are two things I’ve experienced over my now four seasons of covering the league that explain a little of how the league handles things. One is that the CWHL has always had advisors from the NHL, and they seem to take a lot of their press strategy from the NHL. The other is that the league has a policy where some information is the league’s responsibility to distribute, and other things are the responsibility of the teams.

In terms of the first point, the NHL relies on the existence of beat reporters and hockey “insiders”, especially in Canada, when it comes to their press coverage. They expect people will be around on a regular basis, and will ask clarifying questions. In most markets (Montréal is becoming an exception), the CWHL doesn’t have that. In terms of “media” that turns up at Furies games on a regular basis, Toronto literally has me. One person, and one person who has a full-time job and an extensive commute to get to the rink. I can’t take time out of my life to hang around after games for half an hour or more to talk to players, much less show up for 9 pm weeknight practices to follow up a story. Besides which, if I’d wanted to be a journalist I would have gone to journalism school. Actual, paid, trained sports media people need to take up the slack. There are lots of interesting stories happening in the CWHL every season that just don’t get covered. And in the meantime, the CWHL and its teams should probably be more proactive in providing information than the NHL is. If they want more thorough, detailed, professional sport coverage, they’re going to have to make it easier.

In terms of the second point, the easiest way to get information on the CWHL is to go to a game. Talk to the players, talk to the GMs, you learn all sorts of things. Sure, the league office might be reluctant to give out specific details, but Sami Jo Small, Chelsea Purcell, Meg Hewings, Kristen Hagg, even Jayna Hefford or, before this year Brenda Andress, will take a few moments to chat and clarify things if you catch them in person. It’s no coincidence that some of the most detailed information about the CWHL comes out of Montréal—there are both local bloggers and local paid media at the games on a regular basis and they ask questions. Heck, I tweeted a question during the Furies game on Saturday night and got an article out of it. If you’re trying to cover the league from afar, all the GMs have their e-mail addresses on the league website. They’re not going to tell you everything, but if you reach out directly, you’re likely to get an answer, often fairly quickly.

No sports league is ever going to be completely transparent. Fans may wish it were otherwise, but that’s just a fact of life. But to see better coverage, the CWHL needs to reach out more to those who do cover the sport, and the mainstream media has to show up more than three or four times a season. It’s a two way-street.

International Hockey

2019 U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team Unveiled

IIHF - Finnish women impress
Lionesses reign on home ice with Women’s Worlds in Espoo a few months away

Julia Åberg has shutout in Damkronorna debut | Aftonbladet
And it became a real dream bout for the Leksand goalkeeper - she saved all 19 shots when Sweden broke Switzerland by 7-0.

Damkronorna finish with a win against Japan | Aftonbladet
The Damkronorna finished the finals tournament in Finland with a victory.

IIHF - Finnish girls win rehearsal
Lionesses roar in last tournament before WW18 in Japan

CWHL

CWHL Recap: Furies win vs Inferno, Thunder beat Blades - Pension Plan Puppets
Sarah Nurse and Victoria Bach score the game winning goals.

CWHL: Markham Thunder sweep Blades, Inferno shut out Toronto Furies - Pension Plan Puppets
One team wins, one team loses heading into the holiday break

Ann-Sophie Bettez leads Les Canadiennes to win in China - Eyes On The Prize
Danièle Sauvageau wins her debut behind the bench led by her stars.

Les Canadiennes win second straight game in China - Eyes On The Prize
Offence explodes for five goals as team secures series win.

Players to vote for as the CWHL All Star captain - The Ice Garden
Can’t pick who to vote for? We got you

150 girls take part in first Hockey Alberta Female Hockey Day | rdnewsNOW
By all accounts, the first ever Hockey Alberta Female Hockey Day was a resounding success. The event, which culminated with a CWHL game between the Calgary Inferno and Toronto Furies, was held Saturday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in Red Deer.

CWHL cap crunch: How does Toronto handle reserve players? - Pension Plan Puppets

GM Sami Jo Small addressed the situation on Saturday's broadcast.

NCAA

Northeastern and Clarkson are playing the first ever NCAA women’s hockey games outside North America - The Ice Garden
The two coaches discuss the implications of this historic match-up in Northern Ireland

Patty Kazmaier Contenders - The Ice Garden
Who could possibly win the Patty Kaz this year?

Top NCAA goalies Aerin Frankel, Abbey Levy talk saves, styles — and each other - The Ice Garden
This year’s two best NCAA goalies give us their insights after playing together at Shattuck-St Mary’s

A Midseason Review of NCAA DI Women’s Hockey East - Hockey Wilderness
Kicking off this year’s midseason review for all NCAA DI Women’s teams with Hockey East.

NWHL

Grading the Whitecaps’ first half - The Ice Garden
Minnesota’s inaugural NWHL season is going well. But how well?

How the 2018 NWHL Draft could make an immediate impact - The Ice Garden
The 2018 NWHL Draft could change the outcome of this season

Breaking down past NWHL Drafts - The Ice Garden
Let’s look at where past NWHL Draftees have ended up

Beauts shot rates demonstrate shift in philosophy - Die By The Blade
Buffalo shoots their shot nearly 25 percent more this season

Column: the NWHL Draft is still weird - The Ice Garden
Sure, Jan.

Q&A with new Beauts coach Cody McCormick – The Buffalo News
Beauts coach Cody McCormick: Girls want to play hockey. They’ve been inspired by this team.

Women’s Hockey Notebook: First-place Pride hitting stride – Boston Herald
It’s often cliche to say a team wasn’t expected to be here, but the Boston Pride believed in themselves all along.

European club hockey

Russian WHL:

Women’s Hockey Update: December 17th, 2018 | CONWAY’S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
Lots to cover in this update, as we look back on a weekend of international hockey, along with a number of games in the amateur Russian women’s league!

Russian women’s league announces All-Stars - The Ice Garden
The game, which will be played January 13 at Neftekhim Arena in Nizhnekamsk, features many of Russia’s top talents [Ed. Note: CWHL and NWHL fans might be interested to note that among the plethora of Russian stars, former Riveter Tatiana Rafter and former Beaut/Fury Hayley Williams, who currently both play for SK Gorny, will also be attending]

SWHL:

Three players to join the Neuchâtel Hockey Academy for playoffs - swisshockeynews.ch

AWIHL

2018-19 AWIHL season: Round 7 | Ice Hockey News Australia
Round 7 of the 2018-19 Australian Women's Ice Hockey League season has finished with the Sydney Sirens defeating the Adelaide Rush in both games of their double header.