CWHL Folds, What Happens Next?

CWHL Folds, What Happens Next?

By Chris Cole

April 2, 2019

On March 31st the Canadian Women’s Hockey League announced that they are discontinuing operations.  This is devastating news for women’s hockey, as it means there is only one league left that is professional in North America: the National Women’s Hockey League.  That being said, this could be a blessing in disguise.

Last offseason players from both leagues started the hashtag #OneLeague to show support of merging the CWHL and NWHL in hopes of having one continent-spanding women’s pro hockey league.  With the CWHL no longer a league, there is now a good chance that some, if not all of the teams will be accepted into the NWHL. With that said, I do have some ideas on how the NWHL can make possible expansion better in both reach as well as economic viability.

For starters, the whole reason the CWHL failed was because they couldn’t sustain themselves financially and how could they with where their teams are located?  They had four teams in the east with decent travel abilities, but then they had to travel to Calgary and China for games. In a league where top players are being paid only slightly more than people in entry-level jobs, that’s not sustainable anyway you look at it.  I believe that is why the NWHL has been more prosperous: four of their teams are located in the Northeast US and the farthest they have to travel is Minnesota to face the Whitecaps.

Secondly, the Worcester Blades of the CWHL have been the bottom team of the league ever since the Boston Pride of the NWHL came into existence and if there was a team to cut, if the NWHL is to bring the former CWHL teams into their ranks, that would be one. The Chinese team KRS Vanke Rays shouldn't join the merger if it were to happen.  The Blades lost all 28 games of their 18-19 CWHL campaign. The Blades and Vanke Rays should have their rosters dispersed and combined to make two teams.

It was reported today that the NWHL is going to expand to add another two teams. It is unknown if the NWHL is going to sign players from the CWHL, however it is not off the table yet. Stakeholders from the Toronto Furies and Les Canadiennes de Montreal are looking to be own those two teams. With the additions of two Canadian teams, I would expect to see some players from the CWHL (especially from the defending CWHL champion Calgary Inferno) to make the transition to the big leagues.

It really is a sad time for women’s hockey without the CWHL, but it could also be an exciting time for the game overall.  The NWHL has the Junior NWHL happening, which will help develop thousands of girls to become better players and possible future pros.  If they are able to bring in even just a portion of the former CWHL teams that is still a win in my books. This is just a hiccup for the game, but it will continue to grow.

PHOTOS: Chris Young/The Canadian Press