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Women’s hockey league to pay its players

author: konstantin kharitonov | sports editor

Ross in action/Arthur Ward

CWHL Players to get compensation

After a long time of planning, a hockey league has finally achieved its main goal, set two seasons ago. On the first of this month, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League has announced that in the upcoming 2017-18 season, players will receive a paycheque.

In the league’s 10-year history, this marks the first time that league has been able to distribute compensation to its own players. The league had also announced the range of salaries are to be from $2000 to $10,000, depending on the amount of years a player has played in the league.

Each team has now been assigned a hard salary cap. This will restrict teams from spending more than $100,000 on their roster. While it’s unconfirmed in exactly which currency the salaries will be in, it is safe to assume that the players will be paid in Canadian dollars, which differs from other professional league’s salaries being paid in U.S. dollars.

To make player compensation possible, CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress declared last season that the league would expand to China, with two teams, Kunlun Red Star and Vanke Rays, joining the league for the 2017-18 season. With the additions of these two teams, there was enough revenue generated from marketing, broadcasting, licensing rights, and new corporate sponsorships to fund the players’ new salaries.

It has been a very long time coming for the players at hand. The CWHL displays the best female talent of Canada, the United States, and the rest of the world, and as such, by having them finally be compensated for their hard work means that the sport can be and will be a viable one for women in the years to come. As the league continues to grow, it will be able to further compensate for their players, which will lead to more exposure, leading to even more possibilities for women’s hockey.

The effects of this situation sent shockwaves throughout the hockey community in Canada, affecting even players at all hockey levels, including the University of Regina’s very own alumni, Cougar Goaltender Toni Ross. Ross had previously played goalie for the U of R women’s hockey team from 2012-16 and was drafted in the 12th round of the CWHL draft by the Calgary Inferno.

When asked about her thoughts on CWHL player compensation, there was much praise toward the league and what this announcement means to women in the sport.

“This is such an important step in growing the female side of the game. This [upcoming season] is a special season for the CWHL, its players and the game.”

It may be hard to gauge the full effects of this announcement, and while it is great to see the women being compensated, it is nowhere near the level of other professional sports, especially in the men’s leagues. Still, as been described by the players and the commissioner herself, this is only just the beginning.

“Its an important first step,” Ross says in agreement with the league’s optimism. “It is essential towards acknowledging and recognizing the skill that takes place on the female side of the game and in the CWHL.”

This announcement highlights the hard work by women who strive to be at their best everyday in this sport, and they are starting to be heard by an ever-growing audience. People are starting to buy in. More players are getting opportunities with the teams. On top of it all, there is a true investment being made into women’s hockey.

Talking with Ross, she outlines just how important this step is for the growth of the game and where it can go from here.

“The CWHL is a great voice for the women’s game. It is advocating for the growth of the sport for females. This further supports the integral role that the league is playing in growing the game from the grassroots to the elite levels.”

To get to those elite levels, there is still more work to be done. The league still needs to further expose itself to the public. However, it is currently taking advantage of what is available to them, using Twitter and Facebook to reach out to fans all over the country. As well, players have built strong relationships with youth hockey programs, showcasing directly the benefit of the league.

This decision does forever alter the landscape in women’s hockey. The league achieved providing player compensation to the best women’s hockey athletes in the world, and is exposing themselves to a previously untapped market like so few have done so before. It was a bold statement to diverge into China, but it shows that the CWHL will not settle at just the national level.

“The expansion provides a great opportunity for North American players to experience gaining international playing experience,” Ross mentions. “It goes to show that the league is not only growing the game in Canada, but in other parts of the world.”

With both teams (as of press time) set to play in the city of Shenzhen, China, the increase of potential viewership will sky rocket, adds considerable pressure to be able to perform. The true effect of this announcement, however, will not only be felt right away, but those just getting into the game or in youth programs will receive the full benefits of this announcement. It gives young athletes more incentive to continue with the sport, seeing their idols are becoming full time professionals. Their dreams are becoming a reality right in front of their eyes.

“It has open doors and provides opportunity after midget and junior to continue playing outside of university, allowing them to continue playing after their post-secondary time is completed,” Ross says about the affects of compensation at the youth levels.

“It creates more options for female hockey players, and may one day lead to females to make enough money without needing another source of income.”

With this announcement, the CWHL have set their players to be in a position where that dream is a very possible eventuality.

 

About Konstantin Kharitonov

I write about sports, and I yell at them.

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