The hits just don’t seem to stop for the shuttering CWHL: a league auction site launched yesterday is now selling off, wait for it, nine trophies that were previously given as individual awards to players and coaches.
The auction started more or less normally, with some old (and probably extremely valuable) jerseys on the block. Numerous past Boston Blades sweaters were up, including those o former players such as Gillian Apps and Jayna Hefford, as well as a few NHL player jerseys that, according to a tweet from the league, had been donated.
A few other items popped up — framed photos of Clarkson Cup winners, signed sticks, a KRS china set — before the other skate dropped when nine end-of-season trophies went up for auction. The starting bids ranged from $1,000 all the way to $15,000 for the Jayna Hefford Trophy.
While the sale is part of the CWHL’s legally obligated asset liquidation, it seems like having to sell off large parts of women’s hockey history is the biggest sign that the league’s finances were in bad shape. The biggest question still remains, now brought to the forefront: how did it get this bad? How much debt needs to be repaid that the literal trophies are up for auction? The auction site has a goal of $35,000 which doesn’t say much, especially considering it started at $50,000.
Many have also asked why the trophies can’t be donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but the most likely answer there is because league owes money it needs to repay. The players have been paid their base salaries, as Chelsea Purcell confirmed to The Ice Garden last week and again on Twitter on Friday. However, they have yet to paid their bonuses. There are others who are owed money probably as well, including independent contractors, rinks, and more.
It’s too little, too late for any large corporations or donors to make a difference. The league is set to fold in three days. Why didn’t they step up earlier? According to Hailey Salivan of The Athletic, board members asked partners for more money during the season. Granted, being asked to save a league as it fails isn’t exactly a great investment or idea for their partners, but if they were truly partners in women’s hockey, they would have worked to save the league then, not as the league is attempting to pay the final bills before closing up shop.
That doesn’t stop this from, to put it lightly, sucking majorly. Fans have taken to Twitter to express a range of emotions from extreme sadness to anger to confusion. Most fans don’t have $15,000 to drop on a trophy and are left wondering how they can help save the history of women’s hockey.
To that end, Kirsten Whelan of Victory Press and Jared Book of Eyes on the Prize have created a GoFundMe. “The ultimate goal would be to have a public place to look at these items and where people can see and learn about the history of women’s hockey,” their site reads.
The league’s is the sixth auction site to go up. Markham Thunder opened theirs first, in the days after the announcement, with the Toronto Furies, Calgary Inferno, Worcester Blades, and Les Canadiennes de Montréal following suit in their league-mandated jersey auctions. The only team to not have an auction is KRS, as they are not owned by the league.
Update 12:32 April 27: The Angela James Bowl, initially listed with a starting bid of $15,000 CAD, has been removed from the auction.