It’s no secret that the NWHL and PWHPA have had a rift between them. Since the PWHPA’s formation and the boycott, there has been an “Us versus Them” narrative between the organizations. Now, that narrative is reaching a fever pitch, in my opinion.
Yesterday, this article surfaced that detailed some of the situations that the early NWHL players had to deal with. The players are kept anonymous but the stories are still a deep look into how much players struggled in the early years of the NWHL. If you haven’t read this article, read it now or at least skim through the stories of what these players endured. Closing out the article is this comment from the NWHL that made me say WOW.
“This is part of a continuous smear campaign by the PWHPA, which for more than a year has tried to eliminate the NWHL because they have told players that if our league folds, others would start a league for them. In a wide array of forums, including in direct discussions with PWHPA leadership, we have regularly discussed and responded to these allegations.” (x)
Shots. Fuckin’. Fired. The NWHL tends to take the higher ground and be classy about the PWHPA comments but this statement shows how much this article hit a nerve. There is more to their statement in the article.
Now I see two things with this article.
One, this can be used as a measuring stick as for how hard the NWHLPA has worked in the NWHL’s first few seasons to improve things. Anya Packer, director of the NWHLPA, has does a lot to improve the conditions for NWHL players. She tweeted out this statement after the article was released:
I’d love to talk with Anya about some things that have changed in the recent seasons and where the improvements have been made.
As for the PWHPA side of this, you can see where there was a reason for players to leave the NWHL. These stories of living like this would make it difficult to still go out there and risk it to play the game you love. Many PWHPA members played in both the CWHL and NWHL. If you played for the Canadian league and you were sitting there watching as the NWHL was taking hits and cutting wages, I can see where you would get scared and think “oh shit, this [the CWHL’s fold] is going to happen again”. I see the reason behind the start of the PWHPA and their goal but not the backstabbing of wanting the NWHL to fall.
I’d love for these two leagues to work together. For me, I watched a little NWHL hockey (mostly just Minnesota) before attending the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour in Chicago, and after the tour, I watched so much more women’s hockey. If these two organizations could come together, it would cause another boom in women’s hockey. If the PWHPA traveled and showcased the game of women’s hockey while advertising the NWHL’s league that is already in place, you would be able to expand the league ten-fold with the base that is in place. But with how the narratives have been written, I don’t see this as possible right now.
Women’s hockey is on the up right now, the NWHL has grown so much this season, and with Toronto, they’re going to grow exponentially. The PWHPA helped bring women’s hockey back to the center stage after gaining ground and playing at the NHL’s All-Star game. Both groups have the potential to play some of the best hockey we’ve ever seen but this feud is standing between them. We all love hockey and we all miss it like a limb, we need to come together to help women’s hockey get what they deserve: a stable league – and that’s the NWHL!
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Featured Image: The PWHPA and the NWHL