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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: The offseason has come, find a new question

Real hockey news: Riveters and Thunder win! Results for Div IIB Worlds and prep for Div IIA.

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A collection of pucks on the ice, being spread out by the blade of one hockey stick Chris Tanouye/CWHL

Story of the Week

When the first #oneleague tweets started coming out, we re-tweeted a WHW from November where we had addressed the difficulties of merging two leagues with entirely different business models and philosophies. We were hoping that would be enough. After all, there’s not much new to say, is there?

But over the last two weeks, the One League movement has garnered enough attention that despite the fact that both the CWHL and the NWHL saw new champions crowned this past weekend, not calling it Story of the Week seemed disingenuous.

Now that the CWHL has joined the NWHL in paying players, everyone who wanted to make “when will you pay players?” the focus of the rare times that they bothered to interview anyone connected with the league has had to find a new question that “must be asked” that’s really just another way of criticising women’s hockey. They’ve found it with One League.

Never mind that the only NHL comment on this is a throwaway soundbite by Gary Bettman with no evidence of any actual commitment behind it. Or that there was one elite women’s hockey league in North America from the death of the WWHL in 2011 through to the birth of NWHL 2.0 in 2015. (Where was the NHL in 2014? Anyone want to see if there were any snappy quotes from the NHL about women’s hockey then?) Or that the one women’s hockey game run by the NHL in recent memory was a 30 minute game on a running clock, broadcast on Periscope by one women’s hockey writer standing far off in the stands, that merited one entire tweet on the official NHL twitter account and precious little other marketing.

No, it’s clearly incumbent on the women who have fought and scraped to establish women’s hockey as a professional sport to bow to the whims of the NHL in the hopes that they might get some money.

I respect Cassie Campbell-Pascall as a player. I respect her as a broadcaster. But if she really thinks all it will take to merge the NWHL and the CWHL, or possibly create a whole new women’s league with an entirely different structure than either of them is “two weeks of meetings” she’s out of her tree. Also, who’s going to lead those two weeks of meetings? Is Campbell-Pascall proposing to become the Brendan Shanahan of women’s hockey and hold a summit?

The players of both the CWHL and the NWHL (and the members of the two national teams who don’t play for either league) absolutely have the right to advocate for change if they feel that the current leagues are not living up to their potential. The NWHL’s strategy of soliciting anonymous angel investors hasn’t proved to be a sustainable model that can generate a living wage for the players, quite the opposite. And the CWHL’s acquisition of sponsors and government funding must be frustratingly slow for players who would love to be able to afford to devote more time to training and practice. Not all the players who have talked about the need for one North American league have invoked the NHL, although no one really seems to offer an alternative plan.

There’s also the point that “One League” is a misnomer. As we point out every week here, there are multiple women’s hockey leagues around the world. All of them are essential to the development of the sport in their home countries. While the players from Russia, Finland, Japan and France in the CWHL are certainly a welcome addition, it would be a huge loss for women’s hockey if all of the 2018 Olympians descended en masse onto one North American-Chinese league.

Oh right, China. If “One League” doesn’t involve the CWHL swallowing up the NWHL and the CWHL as it stands ceases to exist... what happens to the five-year agreement with China? After all, the development of Chinese hockey is the other hot story of the year around women’s hockey. It says a lot that over the weekend some of the same people writing about the influence of the CWHL on the growth of women’s hockey in China are, in another article, writing about the importance of having one league, without any mention about how one might impact the other.

None of the journalists who have latched onto this story seem to have done any research into whether the NHL has ever had substantive talks with either league on the subject, or what the subject of their discussions with the women’s leagues has been. (We know the CWHL, for instance, does consult with the NHL off and on. What advice has the NHL given so far? Is it any good?) Nor has there been much discussion with say, people who do research on business and sports leagues to talk about what things the leagues could be doing, separately or as one new league, to raise funds and increase their audience. Heck, maybe a good journalist with some persistence and good NHL sources could reveal that actually, there’s pressure within the NHL to make substantial inroads in the area of women’s hockey and Cassie Campbell-Pascall is acting on inside information.

It’s telling that the writers who actually follow women’s hockey regularly have all been somewhat skeptical of the idea of involving the NHL, or that the re-establishment of one women’s hockey league in North America is something that could happen quickly.

For the players that hope that publicity around the #oneleague hashtag will bring some movement around their concerns, any spotlight may seem like a good thing. But when writers only show up to the big events and don’t do a lot of research, the “question that must be asked” is really, what’s this writer’s agenda? To grab onto the first shallow criticism they can find to create a narrative, or to actually help advance the sport of women’s hockey in a meaningful way?

#OneLeague debate hangs over Clarkson Cup, women's hockey - Sportsnet.ca
Exhibit for the prosecution.

North American female hockey players set sights on one pro league after Olympics | Toronto Star
If you separate the quotes in this article from what the writers (this took two people, apparently) are saying, you’ll see that multiple people were interviewed at different times and locations with what appears to be similar questions but in very different contexts. Write your narrative and then get your quotes, it’s how the pros do it!

Cassie Campbell-Pascall joins chorus for united women's hockey league | CBC Sports
Donna Spencer is a veteran women’s hockey writer (among other sports). Here, she demonstrates her knack for gathering all the relevant information on a subject into one concise and readable article.

Despite interest, women’s hockey might be better off without the NHL | The Hockey News
Ken Campbell spent the Clarkson Cup Final in the press box with actual women’s hockey writers. He might have learned something. (The stuff about the NHL, he probably already knew)

For women’s hockey, #oneleague is easier said than done - Eyes On The Prize
Jared and the EOTP team cover the Canadiennes more comprehensively than anyone. He sort of skips over why a merger would be difficult here, but he otherwise presents the issues well.

The NHL Isn't Very Good At "One League", Either
Zoe over at Victory Press handles the One League idea with her usual aplomb. There are some good points and there’s some hyperbole.

CWHL

CWHL: Markham Thunder Capture First Clarkson Cup - Kirsten Whelan
Jamie Lee Rattray couldn't describe it, but she could feel it coming all along.

CWHL Recap: Markham Thunder are 2018 Clarkson Cup Champions! - Pension Plan Puppets
Laura Stacey and Nicole Kosta are the overtime heroes.

CWHL Awards: Cathy Chartrand wins Defenceman of the Year - Eyes On The Prize
The Montreal defender is the third two-time winner of the award

Markham Thunder’s Jamie Lee Rattray wins CWHL Jayna Hefford Trophy - Pension Plan Puppets
Rattray named league MVP by her fellow players after stellar season

Five at The IX: Jamie Lee Rattray, Markham Thunder - Erica Ayala
Five questions with the Thunder's top scorer

First-ever all-female broadcast trio prepares for CWHL’s Clarkson Cup - The Globe and Mail
Along with Olympic gold medalist Cassie Campbell-Pascall and rink-side reporter Nikki Reyes, play-by-play analyst Leah Hextall will give the historic moment ‘everything she has’

A conversation with KRS head coach Digit Murphy - The Ice Garden
Kunlun Red Star’s head coach talks #OneLeague, Hilary Knight, what coaching in China has been like and more.

Kunlun coach Digit Murphy leading women's hockey growth in China - Sportsnet.ca
The CWHL's Clarkson Cup will be decided this weekend between Markham and the Kunlun Red Star team based out of China. Digit Murphy, coach of Kunlun, is playing an important role growing the women's game in that untapped market.

Ryerson alumni are leaving their mark in Canadian women’s hockey | The Eyeopener
During the five seasons Wronzberg and Hartwick played, the Rams won just 24 games and made the playoffs only once.

Hockey a generational bond for the Moulson family - NHLPA
The times when Shannon and Matt Moulson shared the same ice have long since passed, but their love of hockey and unwavering support of one another remains as strong as ever.

NWHL

Metropolitan Riveters hold off defending champion Buffalo Beauts for first NWHL title
Alexa Gruschow's first-period goal proved to be the difference as Metropolitan goaltender and game MVP Katie Fitzgerald held off Buffalo 1-0 to earn the team's first Isobel Cup on Sunday.

The Metropolitan Riveters are Isobel Cup Champions - The Ice Garden
The Riveters became the third NWHL team to win the Isobel Cup with their 1-0 victory over the Buffalo Beauts.

NWHL: Metropolitan Riveters Win Isobel Cup
The Metropolitan Riveters won their first championship in NWHL franchise history with a 1-0 defeat of the Buffalo Beauts Sunday at the Barnabas Health Hockey House.

Riveters’ Core Four Leads Way to First N.W.H.L. Championship - The New York Times
New York’s women’s hockey team had a rough start in 2015, but four original members kept at it and became champions on Sunday when they beat the Buffalo Beauts.

NWHL Awards Better Reflect League Parity
The NWHL has grown, including its talent. The talent is also spread pretty well throughout the league, a parity that is somewhat better reflected in the awards.

Chad Wiseman’s first trip to the Isobel Cup Final to be his last with the Riveters - The Ice Garden
The Ice Garden talks with founding Riveters coach about the announcement of his new role

One Captain’s Journey to the Isobel Cup Final - The Ice Garden
Ashley Johnston has been the captain of the Riveters for three years. Today, for the first time, she and her team will be playing for the Isobel Cup.

Riveters’ Erika Lawler on Winning NWHL Championship – MSGNetworks.com
Metropolitan Riveters forward Erika Lawler joins The MSG Hockey Show to talk about winning the NWHL Isobel Cup and the growth of women's hockey.

International hockey

¡Qué festival!
Spain claims WWIIB gold, Taipei impresses

Taiwan shocks at hockey world championship - Taipei Times
The national women’s national ice hockey team last week stunned fans as well as themselves when they finished second in Group B of the Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships’ second division.

Linda Liu: We Have Finally an Opportunity to Represent Taiwanese Women
Linda Liu: I told the girls that this is going to be a huge step for Taiwanese women’s ice hockey history. Three years ago, no one believed in us.

Olympic Gold medalist Monique Lamoureux-Morando to join NHL Network as an on-air analyst
Lamoureux-Morando will make her debut on NHL Tonight with Kevin Weekes and Tony Luftman on Friday, March 23.

2018 U.S. Women's Hockey team connected to 1998 gold medal team | SI.com
Nobody cheered harder for the 2018 U.S. Women's Hockey team than the 1998 squad. On and off the ice.

Ed Willes: Meghan Agosta is still living the dream | The Province
The VPD constable has represented Canada four times at the Olympics in women's hockey, winning three golds, but she's not done yet

GB WOMEN UNDERGO FINAL PREPARATIONS – IHUK
Great Britain Women underwent their final preparations this weekend ahead of leaving for Maribor on Thursday for the World Championship Division II Group A tournament.

Australian Women defeat Brno Lvi Breclav | Ice Hockey News Australia
The game is being held as part of the teams training camp in Brno, Czech Republic before the start of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group A tournament in Maribor, Slovenia which begins on 31 March.

NCAA

Merrimack College's Katelyn Rae Possesses a Warrior's Heart
THW had the opportunity to interview the top sniper for Merrimack College's women's hockey team, Katelyn Rae. If NWHL and CWHL teams do not know about Rae already, they will be chomping at the bit to get her under contract after her senior season with the Warriors.

The Bay Area Reporter Online | Jock Talk: Discrimination clear as ice
As the men's college basketball scene descended into its annual March mayhem, this year particularly mad with improbable comebacks and inconceivable upsets played out against a backdrop of deep-rooted corruption and bribes, the women's college hockey world got its own gut check.

Tiley helps forge Golden Knights dynasty | Owen Sound Sun Times
The Clarkson Golden Knights needed a big-time period from their big-time goalie for a chance to repeat as back-to-back NCAA Division I national champions.

U.P. represented well at women’s Frozen Four | News, Sports, Jobs - The Mining Gazette
The matchup featured a pair of athletes from the Upper Peninsula in the Badgers’ Abby Roque of Sault Ste. Marie and the Raiders’ Chelsea Jacques of Calumet.

Q&A with Daryl Watts, Canada's next great women's hockey player - Sportsnet.ca
The next great Canadian women's hockey player could be currently playing for Boston College in the NCAA. Meet Daryl Watts, winner of this year's Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in women's college hockey.

U Sports

Women's hockey close out historic season at U Sports Championships | The Journal
Spending their St. Patrick’s Day in London, ON at the U Sports Championships, the women’s hockey team seemed to be without the luck of the Irish this weekend in their bid for a national medal.

Sharman and Serhan talk U SPORTS Nationals, fan support, and keys to their success | The Manitoban
Bison forwards Alanna Sharman and Alana Serhan made Manitoba proud early in the U SPORTS National Women’s Hockey Championship.

European league hockey

SDHL (Sweden) Behind The Mask: Lovisa Berndtsson - The Ice Garden
A saint, a starry sky, and a personal motto keep Djurgården’s netminder focused on the prize.

SWHL (Switzerland) The ZSC Lions defend their championship title again - swisshockeynews.ch
The ZSC Lions defend their championship title with three victories in the final series against Lugano and celebrate their sixth championship, their third in a row.

Neuchâtel Hockey Academy signs Sarah Steele - swisshockeynews.ch
Neuchâtel Hockey Academy has signed Canadian defender Sarah Steele.

SC Winfelden has a new head coach - swisshockeynews.ch
The SC Weinfelden Ladies will have a new head coach as of the 2018-19 season.

Naisten Liiga (Finland) Kärpät, Ilves headed to Aurora Borealis Cup Final - The Ice Garden
Last year’s champions and the Naisten Liiga’s top team will face off for the Finnish league title.

WHL (Russia) Women’s Hockey Update: March 27th, 2018 | CONWAY'S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
There was a lot of hockey played in the Women’s Hockey League over the past seven days, and we have recaps of it all, and some discussion of what it all signified for the upcoming playoffs and for the scoring race.

AWIHL (Australia)

2018 Adelaide Rush player awards | Ice Hockey News Australia
The Adelaide Rush their end of season presentation night yesterday and presented their 2017-18 season player awards.

Lugano's Bettina Meyer to join Melbourne Ice - swisshockeynews.ch
As the Südostschweiz reports, Ladies team Lugano's forward Bettina Meyer will join Melbourne Ice, the current champion of the Australian Women's Ice Hockey League.

It’s been a long season, so we’re going to try something new for the offseason. Unless there is major breaking women’s hockey news, we’re going to move to Women’s Hockey Every-Other-Wednesday. We’ll be back on April 11th with news around how Team China and Team South Korea are doing in the Division IB World Championships (April 8-14).