Women’s Hockey Notebook: Leagues feed national teams, Ruggiero on NWHL, ESPNW Summit



1. Both women’s leagues took last week off for the Four Nations Cup in Sweden. If you haven’t seen by now, the USA beat Canada in the gold medal game on an overtime goal by Hilary Knight of the NWHL’s Boston Pride. Her celebration is all kinds of American:


1a. Wrapping up the performances of the players from the women’s leagues are: Jashvina Shah with The Victory Press covering the CWHL players and Kaley Kirk of Along The Boards with the NWHL players.

1b. Zoe Claire of The Victory Press gives her final take on Four Nations and the road ahead for Team USA. She points out something that will be of greater importance as the 2018 Olympic games near. Team USA filled their roster with players who have been out of college for a while but have remained competitive by playing for the CWHL and NWHL.

If national teams are leaning towards players who have continued to play competitively between tournaments, more players could find themselves on the rosters. Think of it as the “Chris Kunitz Effect.” Kunitz’s spot on the men’s Olympic team was basically guaranteed because of his chemistry at the time with Sidney Crosby. Shouldn’t the same logic be applied to the women’s game now that there are two feeder leagues to pluck talent from? 

2. Both leagues sent 14 active players each to the tournament to play on either Team USA or Team Canada. The split was down country lines with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) supplying 14 players to Team Canada. The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) followed suit with 14 players for Team USA. Where the diversion between the two comes is in the representation of draft picks by the NWHL on the national team.

Kendall Coyne is the only NWHL draft pick who played for Team USA. She is currently a senior at Northeastern University. She was selected by the Boston Pride in the inaugural NWHL draft and will be eligible to sign a deal with the team following the completion of her NCAA season.

Team Canada had two NWHL draft picks on their roster Sarah Lefort (Buffalo Beauts) and Emerance Maschmeyer (Boston Pride). Like Coyne on Team USA, they are NCAA players. Why is this important? It’s the first time the NWHL has broken through the ranks of Hockey Canada on the international stage. CWHL players dominate the Canadian national team roster, but those two women have chosen to go in a different direction than their teammates once their college careers are over.

2a. Lefort and Maschmeyer opted for a future with the only pay for play league – for now. [Ed. Note: If the players do not sign a contract with their NWHL team by the free agency period, they are free to explore the NWHL market. After that, they are considered free agents and theoretically could sign with the CWHL, should the dates align appropriately.]

Eyes on the Prize broke the news of the CWHL’s plan to pay their players by the 2017-2018 season. Sasky Stewart, Director of Marketing and Communications for the CWHL, verified the report, “The recent articles are correct. It is the CWHL’s intention to commence paying players in the 2017-2018 CWHL season. [CWHL Commissioner Brenda Andress’s] approach to developing revenue to pay players I believe was covered comprehensively by her and you in the recent Q & A.”

2b. Of course there are a ton of questions to go along with this announcement by the CWHL. The first being: how much will the women be paid? The NWHL was clear for the get-go about the salary cap, average contract amount, min/max salary, etc. Those details will likely start to filter out over the next year or so as the CWHL prepares to pay players.

(Remember, NWHL players can only sign one-year contracts for the first couple years of league existence. Who is to say the CWHL can’t reclaim some of their former players a few seasons from now?)

2c. In the end, it will all come down to money.

Not just in salary, but consider the Canadian dollar, it’s weak against the US dollar. The CWHL is not immune to currency fluctuations, like their NHL brethren. As for players, Canadians pay a significantly higher income tax rate than those in the United States, but they receive more social service benefits; whereas a US based player/team has healthcare costs. Operating a business with entities two countries is a difficult venture to undertake.

The important take away for everyone outside the leagues is to realize paying players takes more than just plunking down cash.

3. If you were stuck in a cave this past week, you missed Angela Ruggiero being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

3a. Our own Sean Leahy chatted with the Hall of Famer prior to the festivities.

3b. Here’s the full quote from Ruggiero when asked, “How have you viewed the NHWL’s approach to getting things off the ground?”

“The CWHL has been around a lot longer. They’re sort of in the slow and steady, building it more grassroots-based. I think Dani [Rylan’s] approach is more aggressive. It’s fantastic that players have a place to play. I just certainly hope it’s a long-term model that will last because the worst thing that could happen for our game is to have a league launch and then collapse. You see it all the time in other women’s sports. I think what it did demonstrate is there’s a huge need and that she could get this thing off the ground in a really short amount of time. Obviously, there’s interest from the American public. It’s just a matter of is she going to bring all the right people to the table. Is she going to be inclusive? And does she have the ability to get the NHL on board, to get the support of USA Hockey, to get the support of the IIHF and other really important entities at that level. 

“I think it’s fantastic there’s two leagues. I know you can go over in Europe and play as a non-European and make a few bucks. You can go play in Russia, there’s a league over [there]. So we’re scattered about, and I think it’s great because we’re trying to different models out. Trying to figure out how to grow the sport at every level. I just hope that that model is successful and hope that there can be one destination for professional women’s hockey instead of this kind of scattered approach right now. 

“But it’s good. It’s a good start. I played the first year with the Boston team in the CWHL. I played in the original CWHL with Montreal. I played for the Minnesota WhiteCaps back in the day. So I’ve played in quite a few of these ‘professional’ leagues. I definitely think there’s interest. You saw the ratings from Sochi and the natural progression is to have a real women’s pro league.”

4. Earlier this week, Puck Daddy helped launch a fundraising campaign for an independent documentary about the NWHL. Watch the teaser below:

If this is something you want to see more of, donate to the film’s Kickstarter campaign here. The money goes towards two months worth of a production budget of 540 Films – a group that is not affiliated with the NWHL except for the fact they’re making a film about the league, not for the league.

4a. Rachel Koteen, the film’s producer, is interviewed on the podcast, Don’t Snow the Goalie

5. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend one day of the ESPNW Summit. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything beyond corporate rah-rah for ESPN’s coverage of women’s sports. I’m happy to say I was completely wrong. The event was empowering. Only one problem, there was just a little bit of hockey.

I chatted with Dani Rylan, Commissioner of the NWHL, and (American hero) Hilary Knight; met Susan Cohig, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs for the NHL and Jen Scrivens of the NWHL. Hockey information wise, I didn’t have anything to add beyond what was already out there.

Instead, I want to relay some of the messages that had a lasting impact on me. It has nothing to do with hockey; however, it has everything to do with recognizing the changing landscape not just in sports, or women’s issues, but throughout different aspects of social culture. (This isn’t meant to be gospel or unsolicited advice, just things to think about.)

5a. Lizzie Velasquez opened the session with her heart wrenching yet inspirational story about finding out as a teenager someone created a YouTube video declaring her the “World’s Ugliest Woman” and how she got through that moment of her life. Her speech was centered around the message of “How do you define yourself?” and the anti-bullying campaign she champions.

Velasquez’s TedTalk is similar to what she delivered at the conference:

5b.  Someone quoted a line from Sara Silverman’s act and I’ve repeated it multiple times since, “Stop telling girls they can do anything because they didn’t they couldn’t.”

5c. Michele Roberts, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, gave the keynote speech the night before and her message was repeated the following morning. She addressed shifting the mindset of women when it comes to having to work with a group of men. Instead of walking into a room assuming there will be issues because you’re a woman, she advised women to “walk into the space and dare them to make you leave.”

5d. Katie Hnida was the first female football player to score points in Division I-A play while at the University of Colorado. After transferring to the University of New Mexico, she revealed she had been raped teammate in Colorado. When she told her story, she experienced much of the same doubt and intrusion into her life we see many public sexual assault and domestic violence survivors face today. Hnida now words as a speaker and educator on DV/SA in sports. She worked directly with Major League Baseball – who mandate anti-violence training for their players – on the curriculum. She was a part of the ‘No More’ campaign for the NFL. She reminded everyone, “Sports are just a game. It’s never bigger than [someone’s] life.”

5e. Apologies to Kate Fagan and Carli FREAKING Lloyd for staring at them from afar. I probably looked crazy. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to them.


It should be this Boston Blades appreciation video created by Erin Bartuska.


Meet Fielding Montgomery of the Brampton Thunder. PhD student by day. Professional hockey player by night. 

The first eight players have been named to the NWHLPA. They have a huge responsibility on their shoulders as they help set the foundation of the new league. 

Keeping up with the unstoppable Canadiennes. There most be something in the water in Montreal.

Interview with Bray Ketchum of the New York Riveters. The former Yale standout made the jump from the CWHL to the NWHL and is considered one of the best two-way forwards in the league.

Does playing back to back games affect performance of CWHL goalies? Charline Labonte (MTL) leads the league in back-to-back starts.

Oh Captains, My Captains! Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker have been named co-captains of the Boston Pride.

Show Me The Money: NWHL Salary Model A Good Start For Women’s Pro Hockey. The women’s game is generating money. It may not be NHL money, but it’s big enough the league should take an interest.

Kathy Desjardins back between the pipes for Calgary Inferno. Her story is incredible. She came back from a broken collarbone and a concussion all things that occurred while playing hockey. 

Ready for Anything: Beauts’ Steadman helping make history once more with NWHL. This isn’t Kelley Steadman’s first go with a new league.

Will CWHL’s Boston Blades Survive the Season? After a majority of the players left for the NWHL, the Blades roster is thin and struggling.





Brampton Thunder (2-2-0) @ Boston Blades (1-5-0) – 7:00 PM ET

Montreal Les Canadiennes (4-0-0) @ Calgary Inferno (4-0-0) – 8:15 PM ET ($ stream $



Montreal Les Canadiennes @ Calgary Inferno – 1:15 PM ET

Brampton Thunder @ Boston Blades – 1:30 PM ET ($ stream $)

NWHL (all games streamed free)

Connecticut Whale (3-0-0) @ Buffalo Beauts (0-3-0) – 3:30 PM ET

New York Riveters (0-3-0) @ Boston Pride (3-0-0) – 7:00 PM ET