There’s a lot of uncertainty about the future of women’s professional hockey following the announcement that more than 200 of the game’s biggest names will “not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves.”
The announcement of the widespread sit-out came just one day after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League officially closed its doors on May 1 — a decision made by then-interim commissioner Jayna Hefford back in March, citing the league’s economically unsustainable business model.
During Thursday’s Coach’s Corner segment, Don Cherry backed Hefford’s difficult decision and voiced his support for the women’s game.
“Jayna Hefford, I want to talk about her. She took a lot of slings and arrows for cancelling and everything like that,” Cherry said. “And I think she’s done the right thing.”
The shuttering of the CWHL leaves just the NWHL as the lone women’s pro league in North America, but that league comes with the same economic hurdles and questions of sustainability. There’s no mistaking that this is a historic time for women’s hockey, with players — current and former — now speaking out and taking a stand today for the betterment of the game tomorrow.
With more and more young girls dreaming of playing professional hockey, today’s players are hopeful that one strong, sustainable, best-on-best league can be formed to make that a reality.
“Women’s hockey is the fastest-growing sport in the world today,” Cherry said. “I don’t know what they’re going to do, but they’ve got to get this straightened out. I’ve got to give [Hefford] a lot of credit, she was the one who cancelled everything.”
Hefford herself praised the players who spoke out as part of the #ForTheGame movement Thursday:
“Very proud of these women for standing united in their beliefs,” she tweeted. “They are leaders and game-changers in every sense of the word.”