Canadian Women’s Hockey League to Cease Operations
In a press release made earlier this morning, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) has made the decision to discontinue operations effective May 1, 2019. In the words of the release, “while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable.”
The CWHL, founded it 2007 as a joint community effort, was one of two women’s professional leagues operating today. The CWHL was comprised of six teams located in Canada, the United States and China. Many members of the Canadian and American national teams played in the league over the past decade. The league operated two teams in China (just one for the 2018-19 season) in an initiative to prepare the Chinese women’s national team for the upcoming 2020 Winter Olympics in Bejing.
The news comes as a surprise to many hockey fans. Last week 175,000 fans tuned in to watch the 12th edition of the Clarkson Cup, a new record for viewership.
In their statement on their website, the league stated, “We thank our fans for cheering on their favourite player and favourite teams, our sponsors for helping fund the growth of women’s hockey, and our partnerships with the NHLPA, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames. We would like to acknowledge the management and players of Team KRS for their commitment to the CWHL and growth of women’s hockey in China, and Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, Hockey Canada, and the NHL for their support.”
Since the inception of the rival National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), which is based in five cities in the United States, rumors have been rampant that the two leagues will eventually merge into one professional women’s league. The NWHL enjoys some financial backing from the National Hockey League that was lacking in the CWHL. Will the NWHL try to fill the vacuum created by the demise of their rivals? The NWHL has taken a cautious approach to expansion thus far in their existence, but this latest development may speed up their timetable.
Stay tuned to Stadium Journey as news continues to develop.
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