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THN.com Blog: Impressions from the first female hockey draft

Tessa Bonhomme gets chosen first overall by Toronto at the CWHL draft.

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Tessa Bonhomme gets chosen first overall by Toronto at the CWHL draft.

As a reporter, you learn quickly that the best events to cover are often the ones that don’t attract hordes of people like yourself.

First of all, there’s less of a chance you’ll find yourself buried in the back of a scrum, arm fully outstretched, hoping your recorder can still digitally detect a cliché from three feet out.

Secondly, the subject of your interviews tend to be much more engaging, partially because the demands on their time are a little less overwhelming and also due to the fact they know they’re not in a position to shun the media that does show up.

These elements were all on display when I attended the inaugural Canadian Women’s Hockey League draft last Thursday at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Almost two months ago, I was in Los Angeles for the 2010 NHL draft and while the stage and scale of the two events obviously differed greatly, I can honestly say the excitement was no less palpable at one more than the other.

Nerves are nerves, smiles are smiles and when any team in the world summons you to be part of its roster, the friends and family around you get a hard hug.

The reason this event was a big deal for all involved in the women’s game is because the female side of the sport is continuing to work towards the development of a league that’s in a position to pay its players.

Whether that will ever happen, I couldn’t say. But the draft was a crucial step in creating more even competition amongst the five CWHL clubs, something that can only help these dedicated athletes sell their game.

The other factor these women have in their corner is the whatever-it-takes attitude so many of them possess: I mentioned earlier athletes who participate in sports that don’t always attract a big portion of the limelight have to go the extra mile when trying to generate interest in their discipline via the media.

While it’s very apparent CWHL players recognize this fact, the women I spoke to in no way seemed like they were only speaking to me out of a sense of obligation. They’re extremely passionate about their sport and what they’re trying to achieve. In addition to that, these are refreshingly rounded athletes who basically all have some form of higher education because they attended Canadian or American universities while playing hockey.

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My experience covering student-athletes at university taught me they are some of the most focused, hard-working people you’ll find, mostly because their schedule dictates they can’t operate in any other way.

They drive home the old notion that says if you want something done, ask a busy person.

That’s why I’m not prepared to bet against – and am certainly rooting for – the sweat-soaked members of the CWHL in their attempts to elevate the women’s game to new heights.

VIDEO: CWHL draft takes women’s game to new heights

PRODUCER: Ted Cooper

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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