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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: A wrap on Worlds... what’s next?

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Players displayed some brilliant hockey at Worlds, and now they come home with decisions to make.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 12 Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

So, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks.

First off, there was some absolutely fantastic hockey on display in Espoo this year, and no matter how ugly the finish, we can’t forget that.

Noora Räty was otherworldly in the gold medal game. Nana Fujimoto and Team Japan took on USA and kept it close. France came thisclose to beating Sweden two separate times and got their first ever Top level win. The Czech Republic went from technically being relegated in 2017 before the change of format saved them, to a perfect performance in the round robin. Loren Gabel made a fantastic impression in her Worlds debut, and Jamie Lee Rattray had what could be considered a breakout performance in international competition.

We also saw some excellent attendance numbers - Finland’s games had audiences of over 4,000; the gold medal game drew over 6,000, and of course, apparently half of Finland watched the gold medal game on TV.

TSN really absolutely must do something about their coverage, though. Only 14 games broadcast, which didn’t even cover all of the Group A games, with no extra games online. The commentary team for all games was Rod Black and Cheryl Pounder, who were often straight out inaccurate with some of their information, to say nothing of the frustrating, demeaning way that Black in particular described the games. With his emphasis on male relatives, dismissive comments about Group B teams and the SWHL, he’s downright patronizing, and there must be someone at TSN who could do better. He’s supposed to be the play by play person, so surely TSN has someone who can tell me who has the puck accurately and without wandering off into pointless extra narratives that are supposed to be the domain of the colour commentator anyway.

The next Worlds are here in Canada—in Halifax, Nova Scotia with group B games of the round robin in Truro. TSN has a year to get their act together and do better.

As we look to next year, there’s a whole season between then and now. The Canadian National Team players are returning home and are turning their minds to the question of where they will play next year. It will be the players themselves who determine what happens next. How quickly, how slowly, where and with whom.

Anyone who read WHW two weeks ago knows the NWHL is suggesting the “where” and “with whom” should be with them. That doesn’t seem particularly likely. I’m still skeptical of the NWHL’s claim that they’ll be able to establish teams north of the US border, and the only National Team player who’s played in the NWHL is Shannon Szabados. She freely admits it’s a question of geography more than anything else. (She likes how the Pegulas run things, but the Pegulas don’t run the league.) Team Canada were pretty invested in the success of the CWHL, and it’s a big ask to pull up sticks to move south (or, if Toronto and Montréal NWHL teams magically appear, east) to play for a league that has been very heavy handed in its approach so far—the NWHL even spent Worlds tweeting out congratulations on goals and milestones as if these players were already part of the league.

What’s the alternative? That’s the big question. Do the players have plans? Has the group of former GMs and CWHLPA representatives been presented with viable alternatives? Now that the major players are back in the country, all we can do is wait and see.

Worlds

Espoo 2019: USA named IIHF Women’s World Champions - Pension Plan Puppets
After an incredible performance and a disallowed goal, Finland loses in the shootout.

Espoo 2019: Canada shuts out Russia for IIHF World Championship bronze - Pension Plan Puppets
Jaime Bourbonnais gets her first of the tournament as Canada scores seven.

IIHF - Statement from IIHF
Statement on the video review in the Women’s World Championship gold medal game

2019 Worlds: The Call - The Ice Garden
What just happened in Espoo?

“Order” on the World Cup gold - gets special gold medals | Aftonbladet
The Finnish people have suffered with the women’s national team’s heavy loss in the World Cup final.
Now the hockey heroes will receive a tribute - and gold medals.

2019 Worlds Recap: Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan - The Ice Garden
These four teams finished fifth through eighth in the 2019 World Championship

2019 Worlds Recap: France and Sweden - The Ice Garden
France and Sweden will both be relegated to Division IA in 2020

2019 Worlds: Group B’s goaltenders were amazing - The Ice Garden
A deeper look at some tremendous goaltending performances

Div IA IIHF - Hungarian women earn historic promotion
Hungary wins Division IA on home ice and will be joined to the top-level Women’s Worlds by Denmark.

Div IB IIHF - Dutch women fly to Div. IA
Netherlands win Women’s World Championship Division I Group B in Beijing

Div IIA IIHF - Prolific Slovenia grabs gold
Captain Pren plunders 20 points

Div II B IIHF - Gold for Chinese Taipei
Second promotion in three seasons

International hockey

IIHF - U.S. top Women’s World Ranking
1-5 remain the same. Japan and the Czech Republic move up, Sweden and Germany move down

IIHF - Coaching Symposium delivers insight
International speakers promote best coaching practices in Helsinki

Finland’s lionesses to take home smaller bonuses than lions | Yle Uutiset | yle.fi
Each player on the women’s team will receive 5,000 euros compared to a possible 12,000 for each of their male peers if the men’s team wins silver in May.

CWHL

Heads of CWHLPA, NWHLPA prepare for conversations, challenges with changing women’s hockey landscape - Erica Ayala

Amateur Hour: The CWHL Is Dead, Long Live The CWHL - Kirsten Whelan
There's more to this story, but both of these reasons are certainly part of it.

Why did the Canadian Women’s Hockey League close up shop? - Pension Plan Puppets
And is there a path to a sustainable future for women’s hockey?

Venla Hovi announces retirement - The Ice Garden
Naisleijonat forward calls it a career.

NWHL

New campaign aims to bring women's hockey league to Seattle
An effort to bring women's hockey to Seattle -- NWHL to Seattle -- has begun. It aims to establish a women's team alongside the NHL team already slated for the city.

NHL franchise in hand, the push to bring women’s professional hockey to Seattle begins in earnest | The Seattle Times
A new push to bring a National Women's Hockey League professional franchise to Seattle within three or four years is to be launched in coming weeks.

SDHL

Ronja Savolainen criticizes the Swedish League after the fiasco of the hockey World Cup | Aftonbladet
Luleå's Finnish star Ronja Savolainen now gives her view on the Swedish fiasco.

The Swedish hockey association's boss came out of criticism of the Ladies Lions Ronja Savolai: "If our investment in SDHL is bad, she should play in another league" | Yle Urheilu | yle.fi
Ronja Savolainen criticizes the Swedish hockey association's investment in women's activities after the country's B-series.

NCAA

NCAA hockey: Norwich women’s coach Mark Bolding headed to Yale
Cadets reached 10 NCAA tournaments and won two national championships in 12 seasons under Bolding.