Young female hockey players are reacting to the recent news of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folding.
Jaclyn Gibson, who was drafted to play for the Toronto Furies in 2016, said she’s still “in shock and disbelief that this is actually happening.”
The CWHL announced the decision at the end of March, saying it would be ceasing operations on May 1 due to financial issues.
“For me growing up playing hockey there were limited opportunities…My mom and dad would take me to hockey camps where I was the only female player on the ice. The CWHL has been a great catalyst in growing the game,” Gibson said.
Gibson said the move happened at a point in time when women’s hockey was just starting to make bigger strides.
“You know, you see the Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest, WickFest… they’ve made a massive shift in the last 10-20 years,” she said.
Gibson isn’t the only one taken back by the news.
Marissa Murphy, a second-year varsity hockey player at Ontario Tech University said she and her fellow teammates are devastated.
“My goal was to do really well in university and hopefully put my name into the draft and get drafted at some point, so it’s really sad for all the up-and-comers to know that you really don’t have a place to play anymore,” she said.
Murphy added it’s been her dream to play for the Toronto Furies since she was a child.
She said her teammates, who want to eventually go pro, are hoping the National Women’s Hockey League’s plans to add a team in Montreal and Toronto will follow through.
“You have to be optimistic that this is a ‘one door closes, another door opens’ type of situation” she said.
On April 2, just two days after the news of CWHL fold broke, the NWHL announced their board had received approval for an investment to expand it into Canada.
The NHL is a current sponsor of the NWHL and was donating $50,000 to the league. The league will now be increasing that donation to a reported $100,000 with news of the NWHL’s expansion.
“We were previously financial sponsors of both the NWHL and the CWHL. Given the CWHL’s announcement on Sunday, we have confirmed an increase in our financial support to the NWHL,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Global News in a statement, but would not confirm the exact amount.
Gibson said that financial contribution isn’t enough.
“Until we have sponsors that are going to get involved in the women’s game and make it so that the players can make a living off of playing professionally, we’re not going to see this going very far,” she said.
However, she is hopeful women’s hockey will continue to grow.
“It’s really important to keep growing the game at the grassroots level, keep making sure girls are falling in love with the game, and you’ll see great strides continuing to happen.”