Today over 200 women’s hockey players from across the globe banded together and prepared to move mountains by pledging their support of the #ForTheGame movement on social media platforms.
As this story continues to develop, The Ice Garden will keep you posted with news and analysis. For now, here is a timeline of the events leading up to the #ForTheGame movement to help put everything into context.
Timeline of Noteworthy Events
- 3/31: The CWHL announces it will cease operations on May 1 due to a lack of funds and an unsustainable business model.
- 4/2: The NWHL announces that its board approved the league’s expansion into two Canadian markets; specifically Montreal and Toronto.
- 4/2: Dani Rylan and the NWHL announce that the NHL has increased its financial support of the league. Multiple sources report that the dollar value of that support increased from $50,000 to $100,000. Essentially, the $50,000 that the NHL was previously giving to the CWHL was moved over to the coffers of the NWHL.
- 4/4: The 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship begins in Finland. NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan is present at the tournament and hands out awards after games.
- 4/5: Former CWHL investor Graeme Roustan aims to revive the CWHL by asking the current board to step aside.
- 4/14: Team USA wins a controversial gold medal at the Women’s Worlds.
- 4/25: The NWHL announces plans to expand its regular season schedule to 24 games.
- 4/25: The Riveters name former assistant coach Kate Whitman Annis as the general manager of the team for the upcoming season.
- 4/26: The CWHL auctions off its trophies to raise funds, sparking a storm of outcry from the hockey world on social media.
- 4/29: ESPN’s Emily Kaplan publishes a story on Hilary Knight being the face of women’s hockey in the United States.
- 4/30: NWHL alumna Bray Ketchum is named the new general manager of the Connecticut Whale.
- 4/30: Season tickets for the Minnesota Whitecaps go on sale. Last season, the Whitecaps were the first NWHL team to turn a profit. They also won the 2019 Isobel Cup over the Buffalo Beauts.
- 5/1: The CWHL ceases operations.
- 5/2: Over 200 women’s hockey players unite and pledge that they will not play professional hockey in North America. This is effectively a boycott of the NWHL, reportedly led by Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne Schofield, and Shannon Szabados, and a collective demand for a more financially sustainable league that provides greater compensation to its players as well as benefits like health insurance.
The NWHL’s announcements of its two new general managers as well as the expansion of the regular season schedule leading up to today’s historic statement suggests that either the league office was in the dark about the pending #ForTheGame movement, or that the movement came together relatively quickly.
Whatever the case may be, today’s statement by players both in and outside of the league could prove to be the death knell for the NWHL.
Prior to the series of events listed in the timeline above, Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, had stated on multiple occasions that he would not interfere by creating a women’s professional league (often referred to as the “WNHL”). The boycott announced today by women’s hockey stars from around the world, including many of the NWHL’s biggest stars, puts the future of the NWHL into jeopardy while also putting the ball in Bettman and the NHL’s court.
The players are ready for change. They want a sustainable league that provides more financial compensation for their talent. They want health insurance. They want something bigger and better.