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CWHL and NWHL Meet With the NHL in New York

The women’s hockey world has been buzzing with news lately. It ranges from the much-anticipated release of new CWHL logos and uniforms to players like Kacey Bellamy and Brianna Decker joining the NWHL this season. On Wednesday, another exciting development emerged when news was released about a meeting between the CWHL, NWHL and NHL.

Though the exact nature of why the meeting was held and what it hopes to accomplish is unclear, Sasky Stewart, the Director of Communications and Marketing for the CWHL, released a press statement about the meeting:

“The CWHL will be leading a discussion this week with key stakeholders in the women’s game including the NHL and NWHL. The CWHL has been looking forward to this meeting and appreciates the continued and long-term support the NHL has offered the league towards the parties shared goals of growing the women’s game.

The CWHL is committed to continuing to build a league that is both sustainably and successfully operated and in turn raises the profile of women’s hockey while providing a place for the best female hockey players in the world to train and compete. All leagues that share this mandate and vision only help further advance the success of women’s hockey and as such are supported by the CWHL.”

A tweet from Mike Burse reported that the meeting was held in New York, and Today’s Slapshot has confirmed with another source that the three leagues did meet. Representatives from both women’s leagues were present. Brenda Andress, commissioner of the CWHL, and Dani Rylan, commissioner of the NWHL and GM of the New York Riveters, were in attendance.

The timing of the meeting–right before the NWHL’s inaugural season–is interesting to say the least.  In the press release, it says that the CWHL appreciates the “long-term support the NHL has offered the league towards the parties shared goals of growing the women’s game.” It’s an objective shared by the NWHL, with both leagues attempting to grow the women’s game and provide opportunities for players to continue a professional hockey career.

According to the CWHL’s press release, it’s the CWHL who “instigated the meeting to talk about the future of our leagues and ensure what happens going forward is the best for women’s hockey.” But what is ‘best for women’s hockey’ at this point in time remains unclear.

Since the formation of the NWHL, the discussion about how the leagues will co-exist together has been a hot topic. Both have different business structures, which means that the way they conduct themselves and priorities for the leagues are different. But as the press release indicates, both leagues want to see the game grow. A meeting with both the NWHL and CWHL in attendance could possibly mean good things when it comes to working together.

The fact that the NHL was also in attendance throws an interesting twist into the mix, since the NHL hasn’t publicly shown any support towards the women’s leagues. There are NHL team partnerships with some of the CWHL teams, including the Montreal Stars and Toronto Furies, but currently there is no support from the league itself towards either the NWHL or the CWHL.

It’s another good sign that both leagues were in attendance, since support for only one league could increase tensions between the two. What this means for the future of the NHL’s relationship with women’s hockey is uncertain, but this meeting could indicate a solid first step in trying to help #growthegame.

Where this goes from here, we don’t yet know, but the possibilities are endless.

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