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CWHL Wednesday

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I don’t even know where to start

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Furies with the Clarkson Cup
Furies past and present with the Clarkson Cup
Chris Tanouye | CWHL

As late as Saturday night I was not planning on doing a Women’s Hockey Wednesday this week. Preparing for Worlds takes a fare bit of research and there are only so many hours in the day.

Then Greg Brady mentioned on Twitter that the CWHL was going to make an announcement at 10:30 on Sunday morning, and wasn’t that a weird time for an announcement and didn’t that suggest something bad was going on?

Having dealt with the CWHL and its vagaries since the 2015-16 season and noticing that Sunday was month end, I thought it was likely something fairly minor but I made sure to set my alarm. This meant I was more or less awake when the tweet went out at 10:17 am.

I still don’t understand what led the board to make what to all appearances was a fairly snap decision. I’ve heard some theories but nothing that tells me why things flipped in less than a week.

I still haven’t really processed it. I was pretty numb on Sunday. I put my head down and worked on Worlds prep for most of the day. The Canadian national team players literally must have someplace to play every season, so something would work itself out. Sami Jo Small appeared to be on the case once again.

“A small WHW” I figured, “Just a collection of stuff from Sunday and Monday, it’s fine.”

Then Dani Rylan... I was going to say lost her goddamn mind but no, Dani Rylan has not lost her mind, she is doing what she always fucking does and pretending there is a plan, that there is money, that there are resources. Dani Rylan knows how much everyone loves shiny unicorns and Dani fucking Rylan is here to sell them to you.

It’s very nice that the NWHL is planning on adding extra games to their season. It’s very nice that the NWHL is planning on adding extra players to their roster limits. It’s very nice that the NWHL has decided that they will now investigate having a team in Toronto and a team in Montréal.

Dani Rylan is taking the spotlight and running with it. The actual people who will make the actual decision of where they will play, the national team players, they’re not even on the continent right now. Up until Sunday’s announcement it was fairly clear that the players were thinking of having more movement north to the CWHL. They’re not going to buy into this unless it’s a much more solid plan than “the NHL has given us $50,000 extra dollars”. And if the national team players don’t buy in... no one’s gong to be interested in the product.

They’re “in talks” with the Toronto Furies and Canadiennes de Montréal “stakeholders”. Oh yeah? The CWHL owns both of those teams outright. Please tell me who these stakeholders are that have legal power to transfer team names, logos, partnership agreements etc over to the NWHL. And “in talks” and “have signed agreements” are two very very different situations that are worlds apart. For that matter, the NWHL, last I checked, hadn’t settled the issue of whether they’re legally allowed to operate under the name “NWHL” in Canada.

Further, if all they’re getting from the NHL is fifty thousand dollars above and beyond the fifty thousand dollars they apparently already got from the NHL last year... how are they proposing to fund these two teams? Each team in the CWHL had a player salary cap of $100,000 Canadian. Is the NWHL proposing to fund two teams worth of players, staff, ice time, travel costs, equipment costs and food from thin air?

And the NWHL has never had to deal with an international border before. Not only in terms of visas and passports needed to cross, but differences in labour laws, taxes, and all other manner of red tape. In less than 48 hours they felt they were fully informed and prepared to deal with that, did they?

Back to that $50,000. Well, we’re down to one league again. Isn’t it glorious? Surely now the NHL will step up and... nope. Not only has the NHL doubled down and said that they will not be looking at creating a new league, the financial contribution they decided to give to support this one league is... oh hey. The exact same amount they were contributing before! Because instead of $50,000 to the CWHL and $50,000 to the NWHL... they’re sending $100,000 to the NWHL. Which again, is not enough to launch even one new team.

You know what I’m looking forward to? I’m looking forward to the week and a half of women’s hockey I’m going to be watching. And then after that’s done... I’m looking forward to what happens when Hilary Knight decides she has time to deal with Dani Rylan.

The links aren’t particularly organized this week, and I’ve probably missed a few. This should cover the basics though, especially the Toronto focused stuff.

Q&A with CWHLPA co-head Liz Knox - The Ice Garden
The Canadian goaltender was co-head of the CWHL Player Association

CWHL folding, female hockey players fearful for future of their game | National Post
The collapse of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League plunges the future of the female game in Canada into disarray, at least in the short term.But the CWHL declaring it will cease operations May 1 even if a financial saviour comes over the horizon indicates the ball may be in another player’s...

Questions, frustration remain in wake of CWHL's decision to fold - Sportsnet.ca
The CWHL's players and staff found out via a conference call that their board of directors has decided to cease operations of the League. Players had no idea this was coming. Nor did the League's six general managers or the women who founded it. Now, all eyes turn to the next steps.

Toronto Furies GM on CWHL discontinuing operations | CBC Sports
Toronto Furies GM Sami Jo Small talks to CBC's Michael Serapio on CWHL's decision to discontinue operations.

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is folding, board says business model ‘isn’t the right one’ | The Star
“Unfortunately, while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable,” the league said in a statement Sunday.

CBC Listen | The Current | Veteran PTSD, Women's hockey, Coders, Uncover podcast
Is the end of Canadian Women's Hockey League a matter of profit, or the value we place on women's sports? (22 minute mark)

Canadian Women’s Hockey League announces it will cease operations | Watch News Videos Online
Watch Canadian Women’s Hockey League announces it will cease operations Video Online, on GlobalNews.ca

Furies GM Sami Jo Small searching for answers after CWHL closure - Sportsnet.ca
Like everyone else upon seeing the news Sunday morning that the CWHL was shuttering in May, Sami Jo Small, GM of the Toronto Furies and one of the original founders of the CWHL, was blindsided.

NWHL expects to expand to Toronto, Montreal for 2019-20 season - Sportsnet.ca
The National Women's Hockey League is planning on expanding to Toronto and Montreal for the upcoming season.

NWHL says it will expand to Canada to fill void left by CWHL’s collapse - The Globe and Mail
The rival American league announced that its board has approved plans to add teams in Toronto and Montreal

Clarkson Cup ‘will always be there,’ former governor-general says as CWHL folds - The Globe and Mail
Adrienne Clarkson, the country’s governor-general from 1999 to 2005, commissioned and donated the trophy meant to be the female equivalent of the NHL’s Stanley Cup

Some slightly easier to read formats are included after each tweet.