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Timeline of the CWHL's expansion to China

The CWHL is expanding to China, and here's what we know about the new team(s?) so far

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Pat Barkley/CWHL

Last month, the CWHL dropped the biggest news of the offseason in all of women’s hockey, but it's also the hardest to follow. The CHWL is expanding to China.

Yes, that China.

To make it easier to follow, catch up, and recap, we’ll keep this timeline updated each time something new happens, big or small. We’ll link to all of our posts that contain the details you want to know and sources out of China (Hope you have Google Translate handy). At the bottom you’ll find a running “roster” of players that are either confirmed or reportedly playing for the Red Star.

April 28

CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress attends a press conference in Beijing where China announced the formation of a new club program. Reported in only Chinese media (and in Chinese), information was scarce and unclear. The translated articles spelled out the plan for Chinese teams to join the CWHL.

May 17

After rounds of translation, we publish the first article reporting that China’s HC Kunlun Red Star will ice a CWHL team in 2017-18.

Details are still fuzzy. But we know that former Boston Blades head coach Digit Murphy is set to head the new team with Rob Morgan signing on as an assistant coach.

Site manager Hannah Bevis chatted about briefly in the next day’s What You Missed In Women’s Hockey as well.

June 2

The league announces a mysterious press conference for June 5. All signs pointed to confirmation of the Red Stars

June 4

We have our first reports of players joining the Red Star. Finnish media reports that goaltender Noora Räty and forward Kelli Stack have signed with the new team.

June 5

The CWHL officially announces the HC Kunlun Red Star team. The press conference in Toronto makes the team official in North America, though details about the team itself are still hard to come by. The team will play in Shenzen, at Shenzhen Dayun Arena, which seats 18,000 people.

Main stream media catches up to “break” the story, including a Sportsnet interview with Räty in which we learned players would be paid to be hockey ambassadors (not players), serving as coaches for the teams and helping to grow the game in China.

June 6-7

Red Stars host an exposure camp in Toronto "for full and ethnic Chinese women with ice hockey experience" in order to find more players interested in playing for KRS.

July 13

Assistant head coach Rob Morgan posts about first day of training camp on social media.

Solid first day of #TrainingCamp for #TeamChina #WomensIceHockey #Shenzhen @KRedStarWIH @digitmurphy

A post shared by Rob Morgan (@rdmorgs) on

July 14

Another report comes out of Chinese media pointing to a second team this season. Though Xiaoyu Zhao, one of two Chinese businessmen who own Kunlun Red Star, had mentioned at the first press conference that KRS hoped to have a second CWHL team in the future, there wasn't any indication of a timeline for a second team.

July 15 at 7:09 p.m. ET

The CWHL tweets that a second team will be based in China for the upcoming season. Attached to the tweet are two (low-res) images of Andress and others. No press release attached or emails. Emails to the league go unanswered. Confusion and excitement is abound.

A since-deleted tweet from the CWHL (Screenshot by Michelle Jay)

July 17 at 1:17 p.m ET

The plot thickens: Joe Pack tweets that the CWHL has since deleted the tweet about the second team. It's unclear when the tweet was deleted, but it was gone in less than 48 hours. More questions arise.

July 31

The CWHL site is updated to include seven team logos. Does this signal an “official” announcement?

The official HC Red Star site

North Americans and Europeans Committed to China (in no order)

  • Kelli Stack (source)
  • Noora Räty (source)
  • Zoe Hickel (source)
  • Brooke Webster (source)
  • Shiann Darkangelo (unconfirmed for China but registered for CWHL Draft)
  • Emily Janiga (unconfirmed for China but registered for CWHL Draft)
  • Elaine Chulli (source)
  • Melanie Jue (source)
  • Ludmila Belyakova (rumors are that she was offered a contract)
  • Emma Woods (source)

Keep checking back as the story continues.