Women now have their own professional hockey league:
On Sunday, all four teams of the National Women’s Hockey League, the first-ever pro league for women, will drop the puck on its inaugural season. The Connecticut Whale will host the New York Riveters in Stamford, Conn., while the Boston Pride will visit the Buffalo Beauts. All four teams feature 18-player rosters stocked with Olympians and collegiate All-Americans with a $270,000 salary cap.
Make no mistake. The NWHL may be a fledgling, but it’s also legit. The teams will play 18 games apiece, all on weekends, with twice-weekly practices. There is a scheduled All-Star weekend (Jan. 23-24), a postseason in March and a draft in June. The league has received funding from private sponsors along with the NWHLFoundation, which directly supports the league as well as girls’ youth hockey. Teams will battle for the Isobel Cup, named for the daughter of the Stanley Cup’s namesake. Not too shabby for an entity that many of its own players weren’t sure they’d get to see.
This is fantastic. I hope they're able to expand quickly and add teams from the upper Midwest. There's no reason why there shouldn't be a team based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. In fact, there should be a team based in Wisconsin as well.
When the league gets underway, I think people will see that the level of play will really shine. Olympic hockey and college hockey at the women's level is very well played. You can see the skills and the dynamic of the game when you watch these events. Couple that with the fact that women's hockey is gaining traction wherever it is offered and it won't be long before we have at least a dozen teams and a television deal.