The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association was formed to grow the game of hockey, more specifically women’s hockey. Their goal is to “create a sustainable league that pays a living wage to players, provides appropriate elite-level resources (i.e. ice time, facilities, trainers, etc.) and invests in marketing that showcases the players and game.”
In other words, the PWHPA is promoting gender equity in hockey by making it a true way for their players to make a living like the men in the NHL. This will be their first game in their Dream Gap Tour meant to showcase the women’s game.
PWHPA growing women’s hockey
Kendall Coyne Schofield, captain of the U.S. women’s national team, became the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star skills competition in 2019. The decision was made after Nathan MacKinnon sustained a foot injury and it was determined that he would not be able to skate in the fastest skater competition.
Coyne completed her lap in 14.346 seconds, less than one second slower than Connor McDavid who won the event. The moment was groundbreaking in the hockey world. It was an inspiration to women and girls in and around hockey. In those 14.346 seconds, Coyne proved that women can compete at the same level. Brianna Decker’s performance in the precision pass competition that same night also contributed to proving that their sport deserves as much attention as the men’s.
The following year, PWHPA players were given the opportunity to play a game of two ten minute periods at NHL All-Star Weekend. That is a significant step from 2019 when four female players were present at the event. In 2020, there were twenty. Now they will be able to showcase their game at Madison Square Garden.
Rangers and MSG to host PWHPA game
As an NHL team, the Rangers have a significant platform on which to promote women’s hockey. On Sunday, they will become the first NHL team to host a PWHPA game. MSG is an ideal place for the PWHPA to begin this year’s Dream Gap Tour considering its fame and significance in the world of hockey and sports in general. PWHPA operations consultant Jayna Hefford explains that “this is a major milestone for women’s hockey and young girls who aspire to play professional hockey but don’t have the option to make it a career today.” Hefford also points out that Sunday is National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
Women’s hockey has proven to be just as intense and entertaining as men’s. Through the Olympics and the World Championships, the women’s national teams have demonstrated their talent on the world stage. However, the Olympics are the more popular event and they only come once every four years.
The PWHPA aims to form a real sustainable women’s league for their players. John Davidson feels that “the talent level of women’s hockey is simply incredible, and the Rangers organization is honored to host this game. We’re excited to play even a small role in helping elevate visibility for the women’s game.” The Rangers also participate in the growth of hockey through their Hockey in Harlem program. Hopefully the Rangers hosting this first game will prompt other NHL teams to do the same. The game on Sunday will be televised on NHL Network.
My personal take on the event
The Dream Gap Tour is a very exciting campaign for women’s hockey. The PWHPA’s goal of creating a proper league would would send a message to young girls who play hockey or want to. It would give them the opportunity to see themselves in these players.
To put the women’s game on display more often and more consistently would be a step in the right direction for sports in general. It goes beyond just the players and girls who play. It extends to girls and women who may want to go into sports broadcasting like myself. I’ve been inspired by women like Jackie Redmond and Jamie Hirsch at NHL Network along with Kathryn Tappen at NBCSN.
Young girls who play the game deserve to be able to see themselves in women like Kendall Coyne, Hillary Knight, Renata Fast, the list goes on. These women are legitimate hockey players who warrant more attention and a league of their own.
Note: All quotes come from an article at nhl.com covering the event which can be found here.