WHALE’S TALES 5/1/19: LAYING A COURSE
Cetacean Nation has now been sailing upon the waters of women’s hockey for a full year now. And as of today over 29,000 different people have stopped by to check out our Pod, as presented in the player’s own words in their stories. All of these players are part of a unique group that has worn the Whale sweater over the first four seasons, as part of an equally unique and historic league. The NWHL set sail on uncharted waters, secure only in the certainty of the remarkable crew that signed aboard for the voyage. After having learned more about these women through their fascinating journeys, we too are secure in the certainty of their remarkable destination.
It has been a changing seascape to be sure, for the NWHL and women’s hockey in general. There have dealt, with varying degrees of success, with some rough patches that have taken some down. But the players, who are the soul of the ships of this sport, have stayed true to their course. They play not just for themselves, but for those who will come after, into what they are helping to be both a better sport and a better world.
Today’s players will look back at what this league will become over the coming decades and smile. We owe a debt of gratitude to these athletes, who one day in the future, will reflect upon their sport and say “ Yeah, we really did that”. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare wrote
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
Insert the word women instead of man, and this is pretty much what is happening right before our eyes in the NWHL. The bitterness and disappointment of the fans and players who have been a part of the CWHL will heal. The worst case scenarios are still followed by a morning after. The likelihood of one league seems to be almost beyond a certainty when play opens in the fall. There is a lot still to be done over the next few months, but just like the filling out of the rosters each season, it will get done. And one of the most exciting news stories concerning the NWHL is the re-institution of team GM’s. Kate Whitman Annis will hold that post for the Riveters, and our Whale welcome the amazing Bray Ketchum to the food as our General Manager!
Free Agency is almost upon us. And there looks to be enough drama and plot twists to give Game of Thrones a run for it’s money. Cetacean Nation always views the re-shuffling of the rosters as a bittersweet experience at best. There are always players that depart which we wished didn’t (read: ALL of them). But we also realize there are many different forces at work here, in both the players decision and the decisions of each team. And, 50 or 60 player rosters aren’t a thing. So we get fully behind each year’s amazing new edition of our Whale. That is largely possible because “Once a Whale, always a Whale” is not just our slogan. It is the soul of the culture of the Pod. We never forget, because to Whale fans, every last one of our Pod, is simply unforgettable.
As a side note, the recent news from our sisters on the hardwood should be seen as both an overdue reckoning, and as a portent of things to come. The NWHL was founded with the benefit of the knowledge that another women’s sports league, the WNBA, was flourishing and growing. And we learned from both their successes and mistakes. And now with the deal struck between the WNBA and CBS to televise forty games this summer, things continue to head in the right direction. With the growth of women’s hockey both here and abroad, the day will come when TV coverage is a potent force that expands the league fan base, and there we go. You may recall that in her interview with us, our former goalie #69 Mariya Sorokina told us that the KHL, the Russian men’s pro league actually broadcasts the professional women’s games. Maybe someday the NHL Network might carry NWHL games as well.
Even so, the gender pay gap in both sports is enormous, and although WNBA Stars can make ten times their salary by playing a second season overseas, there is a cost. Arguably the best female player in the world, Seattle’s Breanna Stewart, went down with an Achilles’ tendon tear while playing for her Russian squad. Maybe at some point down the line, someone will blink, and two non-conflicting hockey seasons could be established. Far from a perfect solution, but the women have to be paid full time salaries, and that opportunity would be a start. Fins Up Cetacean Nation, your passion for our Whale is both unprecedented and unwavering in its constancy.
5/2/19: Today approximately 200 mostly CWHL players announced their intentions to boycott any professional hockey league until a sustInable league can be created. There are also some three or four dozen NWHL pLayers or draft picks, including some Whale, on the list at this point. The NWHL has responded that plans as formulated for next season, expansion to Montreal and Toronto, and a 50% increase in the schedule and increased player compensation, remain in place. The NWHLPA, thtrough a statement by our former #4 Anya Battaglino, do not support the movement, and think it’s the wrong move. Even more to follow this summer than we thought a few days ago. Fins Up and Chins Up!