This just in, the Metropolitan Riveters of the NWHL have officially withdrawn from the league's 2021 season citing health and safety reasons. Reporter Hailey Salvian of The Athletic reports that several players on the Riveters have tested positive for COVID-19 and that the league is postponing games for other teams out of an abundance of caution.
Check it out:
This is interesting to me for no other reason than the NWHL elected to conduct its entire season using the NHL's "bubble format" that worked so well in Toronto and Edmonton this past summer. So... the bubble burst? How did these women get COVID-19 if they were in the bubble and getting tested daily? Something's not adding up here...
In any case, the sport of women’s hockey is officially come to a crossroads. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) folded this past offseason and almost immediately after a group of 200 professional players, including Marie-Philip Poulin, Hilary Knight and Brianne Jenner, announced a boycott for the 2019-20 NWHL season in a dramatic attempt to establish a single, economically viable professional league. That "unified league" hasn't happened yet and it's my personal belief that the NHL has a responsibility to get involved.
Here me out…
An NHL and WNHL partnership similar to the NBA and WNBA with 12 franchises in some of the NHL’s strongest markets.
Have a 40 game regular season and have the top four teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. Eliminate cross-conference regular season games to cut back on travel expenses.
The crucial part, I believe, is that the teams MUST align themselves with their NHL franchises. Look at the Boston Pride as an example. Black and gold color scheme and a similar logo to the Bruins. The two teams even share practice facilities.
If women’s hockey is going to survive, and it should, this should be the blueprint. Thoughts?