Could a women's professional hockey league be in the future?

One of the big topics at the World Hockey Summit was what could be done to help women’s hockey around the world. While the United States and Canada have dominated global competition since the global introduction of the women’s game at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, no other countries have shown the same kind of growth the game has seen in North America. After the Olympics in Vancouver, IOC President Jacques Rogge said that if improvement isn’t seen elsewhere in the world in the game that he’ll look into dropping women’s hockey from the Olympics.

Seeing how dire a situation this could be for the growth of women’s hockey the NHL is stepping up potentially in a very big way as they’re now looking into developing a professional women’s hockey league.  Jeff Klein of the New York Times elaborates.

“I was in a meeting just this week with the N.H.L. and all the stakeholders in women’s hockey, and I think we have the ear of the N.H.L.,” said Hayley Wickenheiser, 32, a Canadian forward regarded as one of the game’s greatest female players and the keynote speaker at the final day of the World Hockey Summit here.

“They’re looking at it right now from a sponsorship level to get it off the ground,” Wickenheiser said, referring to the N.H.L. “We’re not talking about big salaries, just sensible steps to get it on the ice to entertain people and see where it can go, and then down the road having an elite, W.N.B.A.-type league, which I think we could do.”

Bill Daly, the N.H.L. deputy commissioner, said that the talks had taken place over a number of months and were very preliminary but that they were aimed at setting up a “women’s league or women’s competition.”

“We’ve talked about potential structures that might work, the need for a business plan and our efforts to be helpful to the extent we can be,” Daly said.

Giving hockey-playing women around the world an ultimate goal to shoot for professionally would certainly spur further development in North America, but it also might get women in Sweden, Finland, Russia and elsewhere a motivation to keep playing and look to improve themselves. After all, gearing up for the Olympics every four years can take a toll and make a player’s career seem unnecessarily short.

If you’re thinking this will be something that happens in the near future, don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. This is something that could be more than a few years away.

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, said his league has talked “general concepts” with representatives from the new Canadian Women’s Hockey League about the idea but wouldn’t go so far as to say they would follow the NBA model. The basketball league founded the WNBA in 1996 and began play in ’97 with the NBA owning all the women’s teams. Subsequently, the league has moved toward independent ownership.

Following the NBA’s lead as far as undying and borderline oppressive support for the WNBA would be an appropriate way for the NHL to approach a women’s pro league. While the constant advertisements and promos for the WNBA got tiresome after a while, you knew that the league was there and that women were doing things professionally. Whether or not the NHL could follow the same lead financially-speaking to give that kind of unwavering support to the league is another matter entirely.

Scroll Down For:

    Fore! NHL referee makes the cut at PGA Tour’s Canadian Open

    OAKVILLE, ON - JULY 22: Garrett Rank hits his second shot on the 16th hole during the second round of the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club on July 22, 2016 in Oakville, Canada.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    1 Comment

    There has always seemed to be a connection between hockey players and the game of golf. Some are better than others when it comes to the links.

    Take NHL referee Garrett Rank, for example.

    Rank, also an amateur golfer, has made the cut at the 2016 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club just south of Toronto. He’s currently tied for 36th at even par heading into the weekend. He also sits seven shots behind the leader, Dustin Johnson, the future son-in-law of The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

    Rank, who joined the NHL Officials Association in 2014, has split his time between officiating in the NHL and the American Hockey League. But, according to the PGA Tour website, he was hired as a full-time NHL ref the day before the opening round of this week’s Canadian Open.

    “I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t take my clubs with me when I was on the road,” he told the PGA Tour website. “I think it helps me and makes it a little easier for me because I know that this isn’t the end of the world, whether I shot 65 or 75.”

    Rank, 28, is also a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011, after initially feeling discomfort while officiating a game.

    “When I got the news I tried to maintain a positive attitude,” he told the Toronto Sun. “And you know what, it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. You never want to have cancer wished upon someone but I think it gave me a little better outlook in terms of a bad call on the ice wasn’t as bad. Or hitting a bad shot on the golf course wasn’t the end of the world.

    “It has allowed me to stay patient and be grateful for the opportunities and things I have in life.”

    Related: PHT Morning Skate: James Wisniewski caddies for PGA Tour golfer Jason Day

    Price’s previous injury ‘no longer a concern,’ says Habs goalie coach

    Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price stops a shot during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in New York  (AP Photo/Paul Bereswill)
    AP Photo
    2 Comments

    More good news when it comes to Carey Price.

    After Price had said last month he was 100 per cent healthy following an MCL sprain that ultimately ended his season, Montreal Canadiens goalie coach Stephane Waite reaffirmed that earlier this week in an interview with RDS. That should provide Habs fans with at least a little bit of optimism when it comes to the goalie position after a rather tumultuous summer.

    “I’m not a doctor, but all I know is that on the ice it was perfect,” Waite told RDS, as per The Hockey News. “It is 100 percent restored. We are happy and our medical staff did a great job with him to bring him to the top. It is no longer a concern, he is ready to go.”

    Habs fans have had a difficult few months. With Price injured, the Canadiens quickly fell out of the playoff race. The off-season has ushered in tremendous change, with the additions of Andrew Shaw and Shea Weber, while the departure of P.K. Subban in that deal with Nashville remains probably the most contentious development in the NHL during the summer.

    It is still reality right now that the Habs’ success is still dependent on their goalie Price.

    The 28-year-old Price last played a game on Nov. 25, so it’s difficult to imagine there wouldn’t be some initial rust when it comes to getting acclimated once again to game action.

    He is also among the three goalies named to Team Canada for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, which starts Sept. 17. Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford were also named to the squad.

    Price started and starred for Canada in its gold-medal win at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, while Holtby and Crawford are established and accomplished NHL goalies.

    “It’s a long-ways off,” said Price earlier in the spring, as per NHL.com. “I know I’ll be prepared for that.”

    Recently re-signed forward Callahan in tough to make Red Wings

    MitchCallahan
    3 Comments

    Mitch Callahan signed another one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, and will look to once again make the jump to the NHL in the fall.

    As per General Fanager, the deal pays $600,000 at the NHL level and $175,000 at the AHL.

    A sixth-round pick of the Red Wings in 2009, Callahan, who turns 25 years old next month, has only one appearance in the NHL and that was two seasons ago. He’s spent five seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the minors, where he’s posted decent numbers, offensively, with 19 goals and 32 points last season.

    But he’s also dealt with injuries, such as a torn ACL in the 2014-15 season. Or a gory injury — 10 teeth plus a broken jaw — after taking a puck to the face in an AHL game in 2014. This past season, he took another puck to the face during practice, losing another tooth.

    He’s made it clear in the past that he doesn’t want to be playing in the AHL, although competition for roster spots — Callahan would have to likely work his way into a bottom-six role — in Detroit will be stiff when the Red Wings open up training camp.

    From the Detroit Free Press:

    He’s almost certain to be exposed on waivers again, as the Wings have 13 active forwards signed to one-way contracts, plus Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. And Anthony Mantha is expected to make a push for a spot.

    Patrick Eaves bests big hockey names at Smashfest V

    eavessmashbeardnhlpa
    via NHLPA
    1 Comment

    Ping Pong. Beards. Hockey players making funny faces in street clothes. And it’s all to benefit charitable organizations.

    Dominic Moore‘s Smashfest V took place on Thursday, with Patrick Eaves and his freakish facial hair taking the top prize for the second year in a row.

    Here’s a shot from the happy, bearded winner from the NHLPA:

    (His loved ones must be thrilled that this isn’t merely a playoff look for Eaves, by the way.)

    This shot of Jeff Skinner and his “most improved” award is just too fitting.

    It’s not yet clear exactly how much money was raised for charity, but this is a sign that the event was probably … well, a smash success.

    Good stuff. Here’s a random hodgepodge of other photos from the event.

    Bonus points to Hall of Famer Eric Lindros for the “beer in other hand” form:

    Alex Burrows fell to Eaves in the final round. Seems OK about it:

    Antoine Roussel was probably not being a pest on this occasion. We can’t be totally certain, however.

    Looks like it was a good time for all.