CWHL to Cease Operations

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is no more, despite a recent surge in the viewership of the league. A record 175,000 fans tuned in to watch the Clarkson Cup finale in Toronto.

A week after the Calgary Inferno won the league championship and hoisted the Clarkson Cup trophy, the CWHL announced that the 12-year-old league will discontinue operations May 1.

The CWHL was founded in 2007 and had six teams this past season in North America and China. The six teams that were part of the league were as follows: the Calgary Inferno, Markham Thunder, Canadiennes de Montreal, Toronto Furies, Worchester Blades, and the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays.

This is a tough blow to professional women’s hockey. The league included national team players from the United States, Canada, Finland, Japan and China.

The CWHL began paying its players in 2017-18 from a total budget of $3.7 million. Players were paid for the first time in 2017 and received between $2,000 and $10,000 for the season.

The addition of a pair of expansion teams in China who then merged into one was believed to have injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the CWHL. Unfortunately, the league lost a major financial backer in the venture capital firm Roustan Capital.

“Unfortunately, while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable,” the league said in a statement. CWHL chair Lauren Walzak said Sunday the league needs more revenue.

The league featured prominent hockey stars with the likes of US gold medallist Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Kacey Bellamy and Canada silver medallist Rebecca Johnston, Brianne Jenner, and Marie-Philip Poulin.

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