CWHL commissioner speaks on rival NWHL expansion overtures

Montreal Canadiens chief executive Geoff Molson and Canadian Women's Hockey League Comissioner Brenda Andress pose with Montreal Stars players, from left, Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux, Julie Chu, Noemie Marin, Charline Labonte, Ann-Sophie Bettez, and Cathy Chartrand, right, during a press conference in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

OTTAWA — The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is not interested in starting any debate with the National Women’s Hockey League.

The NWHL, based out of the United States, held its championship game Saturday and in the final minutes of its broadcast hinted at possible expansion into Canada with teams in Montreal and Toronto, where CWHL teams already exist.

The news created a stir in the women’s hockey community as the main difference between the two leagues is the fact NWHL players are paid to play, unlike those in the CWHL.

“I know everybody’s wondering about the tweets last night that came out,” said CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress. “Let me just tell you that I’m very aware of it. I think it was a very strategic move on their part, however today’s game is all about our players and the phenomenal season that we’ve had all year long, our four very strong partnerships with NHL clubs and today is really about celebrating them.”

The CWHL championship, the Clarkson Cup, was played Sunday afternoon at the Canadian Tire Centre between the Calgary Inferno and Les Canadiennes from Montreal.

Andress did her best to keep the focus on the CWHL's success this season talking about the championship game and the overall success of the past season.

Asked if two professional hockey leagues could survive Andress was cautious in her response.

``We've always believed in one league,'' said Andress. ``You have to do stuff to make sure women's hockey succeeds. And not just women's hockey, but women's sports all around. The CWHL has always been open to discussions about one league. We've always been open to making sure the future of women's hockey continues to grow. We will always be open to those suggestions.''

Expansion is also being considered, but no immediate plans are in place at this time.