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NWHL and CWHL Teams Face Off At Winter Classic

Per a tweet from Jen Neal of Puck Daddy, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reported Saturday the NWHL’s Boston Pride and the CWHL’s Les Canadiennes will face off at the site of the NHL’s Winter Classic this winter.

According to an interview Neale did Friday with Calgary Flames GM Brian Burke, who also sits on the Board of Governors of the CWHL, Burke himself favors the two leagues merging into one, creating a juggernaut of a women’s hockey league one-third the size of the NHL’s. This would almost certainly mean a relocation of one of the two Boston women’s hockey teams (the Pride and the Boston Blades) and could spell a new era for women’s hockey. 

Is this the start of a merger? It’s too early to tell for the two leagues but it will certainly draw huge crowds that want to see NWHL player and Team USA darling Hilary Knight face off against former CWHL compatriots, such as Julie Chu, Caroline Ouellette and newly-minted CWHL player and Team Canada powerhouse, Marie-Philip Poulin. This would also mean a huge publicity boost for the fledgling NWHL with the game being played on one of the NHL’s grandest stages.

Knight and other members of the Boston Pride entered into a work stoppage while playing for the CWHL’s Boston Blades over contract disputes, at the heart of which was the question of player rights. Many of them have since joined the NWHL, citing the opportunity to play pro hockey and earn money while doing so.

The NWHL had no comment when contacted.

Update: The game will be played Dec. 31 before the NHL’s alumni game.

Per a source, the NWHL and CWHL broached the topic of playing each other during the Winter Classic at the September meetings at the NHL’s offices. This is the first time the NHL has publicly thrown its support behind the women’s game as a whole and bodes well for future partnerships between the men’s and women’s games.

Update: Per Hilary Knight the Team USA players will not participate in the Winter Classic game due to a previous commitment to the national team. Should some of the best players in the country be held from competition this will almost certainly affect exposure negatively and will make icing a team difficult for Boston, one third of whose roster so composed of U.S. National Team players.

  • Everbright

    THANK U KATE. If it just the USA team that’ll be busy you think, or will Team Canada strip out their players from the Stars too? I mean, it’s sorta not fair otherwise…

    • Kate C

      Nope, Team Canada players will be out in full force that day. Sort of makes the competition a bit unfair, if you ask me…

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  • Everbright


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