One week after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s record-breaking viewership for its championship game, the league announced that it would be discontinuing operations effective May 1, 2019. The league cited financial and economic instability for the closure.
This comes on the heels of recent discussions between the CWHL, the National Women’s Hockey League, and the NHL. The press release commends their commissioner Jayna Hefford for her successful work with the league. Hefford has publically stated that her priority is the creation of one women’s league.
The 175,000 viewers who watched the Calgary Inferno win the Clarkson Cup final were watching the last Clarkson Cup final without knowing it.
Hefford believes that the support of the NHL would be crucial to the continuing operations of professional women’s hockey and that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL “don’t really want to get involved as long as there are two leagues that exist.”
The CWHL did not tell their players in advance that the league would be closing.
— Rebecca Leslie (@beccalesliee) March 31, 2019
Players from the CWHL are currently preparing for the IIHF World Championships, which start in Espoo, Finland this week.
The CWHL’s folding comes at a time when the NWHL set new records in attendance, viewership, and engagement this season, according to a press release.
The league was comprised of six teams and operated for 12 seasons. Three of those teams, the Calgary Inferno, Toronto Furies, and Les Canadiennes, had partnerships with their NHL brother clubs. Additionally, they fielded a team in China, the Shenzen KRS Vanke Rays, ahead of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
Toronto, Canada – The Board of Directors of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) has made the decision to discontinue operations effective May 1, 2019. Unfortunately, while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable.
New management, led by Jayna Hefford, and the new Board, put in place in Summer & Fall 2018 respectively, have proactively worked with our contract staff, players, GM’s, industry partners and corporate sponsors to establish an adequate revenue base, good governance, and high-quality hockey on the ice. Unfortunately the business model that has been the foundation of the League is not sustainable financially.
Founded in 2007 by players and members of the community, the League’s mandate was to grow the sport of women’s hockey, and to that extent it more than achieved its goal.
Last week 175,000 fans tuned in to watch the 12th edition of the Clarkson Cup, a new record for viewership, and the game delivered. Women’s hockey is fast, skilled, and generally high scoring, making for excellent entertainment.
We thank our fans for cheering on their favourite player and favourite teams, our sponsors for helping fund the growth of women’s hockey, and our partnerships with the NHLPA, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames. We would like to acknowledge the management and players of Team KRS for their commitment to the CWHL and growth of women’s hockey in China, and Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, Hockey Canada, and the NHL for their support.
The contract staff, contractors, coaches, and athletes of the CWHL are an inspiration to women around the world, and under Jayna Hefford’s leadership this season we have seen a new levels [sic] of success, new energy and credibility to the game.
Headline image: CWHL
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