News that the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) will cease operations has been met with nearly universal shock and disappointment.
It all happened so quickly in the form of a Sunday morning conference call to team officials. He said the league was no longer “sustainable financially,” and it would cease operations May 1.
“I had no idea. I was confused. I was angry. I was sad,” CWHL All-Star Carlee Campbell, who plays defence for the Toronto Furies, told CBC News. “I’m a little confused as to why this whole thing has happened because wewere on such a positive trajectory.”
Furies general manager Sami Jo Small said, “We had a meeting last week talking about next year and best practices going forward, and the league was right there with us. There didn’t seem to be any indication things were going in this direction.
From the outside, things appeared to be going well. The on-ice product continued to evolve with players getting faster and stronger every year. And, last week, more than 175,000 viewers tuned in to watch the league’s championship game, the league said.‘
A franchise model was needed
Cary Kaplan is the president of Cosmos Sports & Entertainment and has consulted for hundreds of minor collegiate and professional sports teams across Canada.
“They’ve missed the boat on the way it’s been structured,” Kaplan says.
The CWHL is structured as a not-for-profit organization. There are no team owners. The league owns the teams and only started paying players last season from a total budget of roughly $3.7 million.
Kaplan says every successful league in North America is built on a franchise model where corporations or individuals own teams. He says teams need ownership groups that are committed to women’s hockey and are willing to maybe lose some money.