Women’s Worlds back to square one after abrupt cancellation

1 Comment

Team USA was on the ice when Wednesday’s announcement came down.

No one expected it would be their last time together for potentially months, after Nova Scotia announced the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship would be cancelled.

“Words cannot describe our sadness and disappointment over the cancellation,” Team USA player Dani Cameranesi Tweeted on Thursday morning. “Behind the scenes it amounts to 2 years worth of training for these exact moments…all to be taken away at the last second.”

Women’s Worlds were supposed to begin on May 6, the first international women’s hockey event since April of 2019 after the tournament was cancelled a year ago. They were slated to begin 15 days after Nova Scotia abruptly cancelled the 2021 version, which was to take place between Halifax and Truro. The IIHF said in a statement on Wednesday they would seek new dates for the tournament.

Frustration from players with the USA and Canadian squads boiled over on social media in the hours and day afterwards. That no backup plan was in place, after the IIHF had planned ahead and moved the boys U18 event scheduled for this month in Texas after being scheduled for Michigan, was at the pinnacle of that frustration.

“And there wasn’t a Plan B because….?” asked USA goalie Alex Cavallini on Twitter. “Every team is already in a bubble and following strict protocol. This is extremely disappointing and a major let down for every single player and staff who has worked so hard to get to this point. But, women’s hockey will be back.”

Team USA’s Kendall Coyne-Schofield also took to Twitter, saying in a statement, “The response shows a lack of care that the IIHF had when it came to making sure the Women’s Worlds was successful like the other international hockey tournaments we have so joyfully watched over the last year.”

Nova Scotia has had strict protocols for months, so it’s been perplexing for all involved there wasn’t a plan similar to the one the U18 boys got, where they relocated it in February — months ahead of time — in anticipation of stronger protocols in Michigan.

“I am completely disappointed in the province of Nova Scotia’s decision to cancel the 2021 WWC,” tweeted Canada’s Blayre Turnbull, who also outlined the health and safety measures teams had taken. “The health and safety of the people in Nova Scotia has always been our number one priority. To ensure this, Hockey Canada, our medical staff, and the IIHF put these protocols in place.”

Across the globe, the cancellation came as a surprise. The Czech Republic national team had just named their roster earlier in the morning.

Sean Shapiro at The Athletic reported on Wednesday night the IIHF was looking at potential dates in Texas, similar to what the U18 boys have set up, working with the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

Whatever happens, it’ll be an even longer delay before elite women’s hockey players can compete internationally again. For Canada, it’s tougher; they haven’t been able to host any PWHPA events, unlike the USA players in the PWHPA, European players in the SDHL, and handful of Czech players in the NWHL. They had already been isolating in Halifax for almost two weeks when they learned it was for naught.

In an Olympic year upcoming, having no international preparation is even more difficult. Hopefully for the players, the IIHF makes it a priority to let them play in a tournament and prepare for the most marquee event and showcase of the sport.

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.