FanPost

Why the CWHL Should Expand in the USA

I'm retired and cranky so here is a random idea. It's time for the CWHL to expand in the United States further. The reason is a simple one. The growth of the CWHL in the United States has been surpassed by the NWHL which has put all their efforts in to growing the game in the U.S. While the CWHL can clearly argue that they are the league for Canadian teams, as they have the only ones in professional hockey, the footprint below the border is not as strong.

The Worcester (formerly Boston) Blades were thrown into rebuilding mode when critical parts of their roster headed to the new NWHL's Boston Pride. The rest of the CWHL's teams had no such struggles to overcome, though Toronto has had down years, they nonetheless can reload faster. No matter how well the Blades have been able to recruit, they are always set up to be surpassed by the far more well off Canadian teams. It is tough to gain a foothold when one is destined to lose a lot of games no matter how much progress is being made. The Blades are making progress, but even as they bolstered their team, Calgary and Montreal became even more fearsome, being able to deploy entire lines of the best players in the world. Markham, Shenzen, and Toronto are plenty good themselves, only slightly eclipsed on paper by the major moves the Inferno and Les Canadiennes made. The point here is that Worcester needs a domestic opponent in a similar position to play, to give both teams the opportunity to grow. It would also provide a story line to follow, as team rivalries can often transcend places in the standings.

The CWHL would benefit from being able to leverage a larger United States imprint in One League negotiations. Players would benefit from increased opportunities, and fans would benefit from more interesting contests. Also, admittedly, One League could be a long ways away. The leagues have different business approaches, and NHL Commissioner Bettman continues to demonstrate little understanding of the women's game. Momentum seems to be stuck in the custard. On the other hand, the NWHL could arguably want to expand into Canada to gain a leverage advantage as well. The Blades however are noticeable as a vanguard that has been left somewhat abandoned, as if they were sent by Denethor to charge the Orc lines with little hope of survival or reinforcement while their fans are left to sing helplessly like Pippin took.

Obviously teams cost money, but despite Bettman's statements, there is plenty of talent to support two women's hockey leagues if players can be given the opportunity. The longer the Blades spend as a growing but losing team, the more fans will question the CWHL's ability to handle the United States market effectively. Even as the NWHL streams every game they play, and grows alliances with the NHL teams in the states, the CWHL cuts back on their streaming and has left the Blades in a difficult position even with their big move to Worcester.

I'm not sure where the best place to put a second team would be but just think the CWHL should consider what it might do to improve the league's standing in the United States.