The CWHL announced today that as part of their partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs, both the CWHL 2019 All-Star Game and the 2019 Clarkson Cup Final will be held in Toronto.
The All-Star Game, scheduled for Sunday, January 20th, will be held at Scotiabank Arena for the fourth time, while the Clarkson Cup Final on Sunday, March 24th will be at the Coca-Cola Coliseum for the second year in a row. We can guarantee that there will be quite a few All-Star candidates from both the Toronto Furies and Markham Thunder; watching 34 of the league’s best players on the ice at Scotiabank is going to be thoroughly awesome.
The scheduling of the Clarkson Cup Final raises some concerns. As with last year, there’s a Toronto Marlies game scheduled on the same day, at 4:00 pm. The time of the Final hasn’t yet been confirmed, but as the game will be broadcast on Sportsnet, it’s likely to be an early afternoon game, same as last year. The quick turnaround from one game to another led to a number of issues with last year’s Final: adopting a truncated overtime and nearly ending in a shootout; a doubleheader package sold only through the Marlies via e-mail or phone that was badly publicized; an extremely short on-ice celebration and limited time for postgame interviews.
These things would not have been ideal for any game but were especially galling during the league championship. This year there’s the added wrinkle that the Marlies game is scheduled to be broadcast on the NHL Network, meaning that even the half hour delay that was added before the previous Marlies game is unlikely to be an option this year. (There’s a Raptors game at Scotiabank Arena that day, so moving either game to the NHL arena is also out of the question.)
It’s all well and good of the Leafs to give the CWHL arena space to hold major events, but not if there’s an expectation that a regular season minor league men’s hockey game will still take precedence over the biggest game of the CWHL season. They’ve had a year to work this out! If this partnership is so meaningful to the Maple Leafs, maybe give the CWHL an entire afternoon.
Speaking of that partnership, this Sunday’s Furies game against the Calgary Inferno is going to feature more active support from their NHL brother team.
We’ve been hoping to see more public support from the Maple Leafs, and this is a good start. Note the time is much later than usual — a 3:15 pm start rather than the normal 1:00 pm Sunday start time. It’ll also be a great game against Calgary, whose lineup is an all-star team in and of itself, featuring both American and Canadian national team players. Tickets are available at the door or online.