The fight to sell women’s hockey: Can the CWHL become the WNBA?

Matt Larkin
Montreal's Julie Chu will look  to add the 2014-15 Clarkson Cup to her trophy case this weekend. (photo by Jess Desjardins/CWHL)

People close to 
Julie Chu consider her superhuman. But you’d have to forgive her if you spotted bags under her eyes in winter 2013. It was a non-Olympic year, so Chu, one of Team USA’s most decorated forwards ever, worked as an assistant coach with Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., as a day job. She gave instruction wearing full equipment so she could squeeze daily workouts in simultaneously. She stayed with the team from Monday to Saturday, including game nights, which were typically Friday and Saturday. Her rest and recreation after a game consisted of hopping in her car and driving to Montreal (215 miles), Toronto (367 miles) or Boston (186 miles), depending on where her Canadian Women’s League team competed that weekend. She’d arrive to join it late – often at 2 a.m. or so. She’d get what sleep she could and play in the Montreal Stars’ game the next day. After that? Back in the car. Back to Eastern New York to get ready for work Monday. Rinse, repeat.

It’s not quite the glamorous life you’d picture for a Harvard graduate who finished her amateur career as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, was her country’s flag bearer at the end of the 2014 Sochi Games and donates oodles of money to buy hockey equipment for children of military members. Yet Chu’s story paints an accurate picture of everyday life for elite female hockey players – and she’s one of the lucky ones. She’s been fortunate enough to find work in the sport when she’s not competing. Still, she can’t get paid to play the game professionally. No CWHL players can. They’re forced to work other jobs, yet they’re expected to perform at the peak of their abilities on game day. They’re attempting to attract interest, sponsors and enthusiasm while playing the sport with one hand tied behind their collective back.

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Top 10 players of 2014: Game’s brightest shine in Olympic year

Sidney Crosby

Whether the NHL participates in the 2018 Olympics or not, it will forever be hard to top the talent seen in both the 2010 and 2014 games. Not only was the men’s game showcased on one of the brightest stages, the women’s game provided some incredible drama in the medal round.

As such, there is a pair of women on this year’s top 10 players. There are also appearances from a few future stars. One member of this list did outstanding things before becoming a pro, and is already making his mark on the NHL in his rookie season, while others are breaking out or remaining at the top of their games. Read more

Top 10 shootout goals of 2014: Gagner’s hands reign supreme

Sam Gagner shootout winner

There’s speculation that the 2014-15 season may be the final year in which the shootout is a big part of regular season NHL contests.

With a push coming for extending overtime in order to eliminate the need for the shootout, it’s going to make the shootout specialist a lot less common and, in turn, could make top 10 lists such as this extinct in the future.

So, while we still can, here are the top 10 shootout goals of 2014: Read more

Dominik Hasek, Scott Niedermayer headline 2015 IIHF Hall of Fame

Dominik Hasek IIHF HOF featured

Already members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Scott Niedermayer and Dominik Hasek will enter the IIHF Hall of Fame as part of a seven-member class of 2015.

Other inductees include longtime Czech captain Robert Reichel, Sweden’s Maria Rooth, Fran Rider in the builder category, and Lucio Topatigh, an Italian national rewarded for his play for a non-top hockey nation. Read more

CWHL All-Star Game roundtable: History, rivalry, and the growing women’s game

The Hockey News
CWHL Roundtable Featured

By Namish Modi

All-Star Games may not be the most exciting event on the calendar anymore, but for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), this one will be one to remember.

On Saturday at the Air Canada Centre, the first All-Star Game in the league’s short five-year history was played. The exhibition game, which had several Olympians playing in it, was played in front of a crowd of 6,850 people.

The two teams, Team White and Team Red, were selected by captains Jessica Campbell and Charline Labonte on Friday night, fantasy draft style. Each captain picked five players to their team while the rest of the squads were filled up by the “throwing the sticks” format. Team Red’s Rebecca Johnston scored the winning goal in a 3-2 come back victory, while Team White’s Natalie Spooner scored the first goal in CWHL All-Star Game history. Following the game, the 42 all-stars took part in a light-hearted skills showcase, which consisted of a breakaway challenge and fastest skater competition. Read more

Oilers already have perfect man to oversee rebuild: Bob Nicholson

Nicholson

So Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish was scheduled to meet with the media on Friday morning to “address the Oilers performance through 26 games and take questions.” That promises to be a pleasant exchange of ideas.

By all accounts, MacTavish will not announce either of the two things for which many Oiler fans are clamoring – that he’s firing the coach or he’s making a blockbuster trade to upgrade the roster. In reality, with an 11-game losing streak and the stench of defeat permeating the organization, neither of those would provide much relief. The best thing the Oilers could do now is stay the course and finish in the standings exactly where they are now. That would guarantee them at worst the second overall pick and the best chance at the first, meaning they’d have the opportunity to draft a potential generational superstar in either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Not even the Oilers could screw that up. Read more

Female referees to officiate Southern Pro game for Girl Scout Night

Jared Clinton
SPHLFeatured

On Friday, Nov. 21, when the Southern Pro League’s Columbus Cottonmouths take on the Fayetteville FireAntz, referees Erin Blair and Katie Guay will be making the calls.

Both highly decorated and with a ton of international experience, the female duo was selected to work the game, in partnership with the Cottonmouths and USA Hockey, as part of Columbus’ Girl Scout Night. Former NCAA players, Blair and Guay have been part of some of the most notable international women’s tournaments, and this will further add to their list of achievements. Read more

Canadian women down rival USA to win to capture Four Nations Cup

Jared Clinton
Jennifer Wakefield

In their first elimination contest since the Sochi Olympics, the Canadian women’s national team defeated rival Team USA to win the 4 Nations Cup in Kamloops, B.C., on Saturday night.

Canada’s Brianne Jenner played the role of hero with the only goal in the shootout and netminder Genevieve Lacasse made a pair of glove saves to preserve Canada’s 3-2 shootout victory. Read more