Professional women’s hockey is set to make its return to Canada with the National Women’s Hockey League officially announcing it is expanding into Toronto.
The yet to be named franchise has an ownership group headed by former Harvard captain Johanna Boynton, features former Brown University coach Margaret “Digit” Murphy as its president, and already has five players under contract, the NWHL said in a three-page release Wednesday.
“Launching our first team in Canada is a pivotal and proud moment for the NWHL,” league founder and commissioner Dani Rylan said in statement. “Everyone in the Toronto hockey community can be sure that this first-class team of professionals will make bold strides for the women’s game.”
The Toronto team increases the U.S.-based NWHL’s number of franchises to six, and comes a year after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded after 12 seasons because of financial instability.
The NWHL was founded in 2015, becoming North America’s first pro women’s league to pay its players a salary. It currently has teams in Boston, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey; Danbury, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The move north of the border comes a little over a week after The Associated Press first reported the NWHL’s plans.
Murphy has played a lead role for the expansion franchise by having spent the past month establishing contacts and recruiting players.
All five players signed previously played in the CWHL, with the most notable being Shiann Darkangelo, a member of the United States team that won the 2016 world championships. The four other players are Canadians: forward Taylor Woods, defencemen Kristen Barbara and Emma Greco, and goalie Elaine Chuli.
“I’m delighted to be part of the first NWHL franchise in Canada because it brings me back to my roots,” the 58-year-old Murphy told the AP in a phone interview.
“A year ago, when the CWHL shut down, they had one of the best hockey products on the market,” she said. “So I just see this as a continuation of that, and Toronto deserves a women’s franchise.”
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League ceased operations in April last year.
It’s unlikely the NWHL will be able to draw from the rosters of current U.S. or Canadian national teams after their members helped form the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association in the wake of the CWHL’s collapse.
🚨PWHPA statement on NWHL expansion <a href=”https://t.co/uCvuZYBc9h”>pic.twitter.com/uCvuZYBc9h</a>
The PWHPA members spent the past year holding a series of barn-storming weekend events across North America, and are already making plans to do so again next year.
Canadian forward Marie-Philip Poulin, the only player in women’s hockey history to score in three straight Olympic finals, brushed off the NWHL’s arrival in Canada.
“There’s not much to say,” she told CBC Sports’ Andi Petrillo on the CBC Olympics Instagram channel shortly after Wednesday’s news broke. “I don’t know if it’s professional. I think there’s a reason why many of us are not playing in that league.”
WATCH | Marie-Philip Poulin on NWHL expansion:
Poulin, 29, is among more than 200 of the world’s top players who vowed not to play professionally in North America in the wake of the demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
They later formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, which is pushing for the establishment of a single league capable of paying players a fair wage and with a financially stable long-term economic model.
“We believe in what we are doing. We want to create that viable league and we’re united,” said Poulin, a former member of the Les Canadiennes de Montreal who led the CWHL in scoring for three straight seasons before it folded. “We’re going to keep working together and that’s something that’s going to happen.”
Put simply, noted Poulin, the players are fighting for a league in which they could make a living.
“We’re not asking for millions like the NHL guys, just something [where] we can wake up every day and go to work. Just having that dream job,” Poulin said. “We work as hard [as the men].”
Former CWHL goalie and PWHPA member Liz Knox questioned the timing of the NWHL announcement by referring to the coronavirus pandemic and writing in a text message: “It’s difficult to imagine expansion being at the forefront of many business strategies.”
“Our vision has not changed as we move forward, but our priorities now lie on the health and safety of our players, staff, volunteers and fans,” Knox said. “We will see what the fall brings and I wish the best to any of the former PWHPA members who have signed.”
Last week, PWHPA executive member Jayna Hefford said she was aware of and welcomed the NWHL’s expansion bid, even though it doesn’t fit her association’s long-term objective.
“We think this is an opportunity that’s going to be provided for some women to play hockey at that level,” Hefford told the AP. “But it’s not the opportunity that we’re looking to provide and the professional league that we want to create.”
The NWHL does not reveal its financial numbers or all player salaries, with some making as much as $15,000 last season. The league also introduced a plan to share 50 per cent of revenue generated from sponsorship and media deals on top of player salaries.
Season scheduled to start in November
The NWHL was unable to complete its season after postponing its championship game due to the coronavirus pandemic. Boston was scheduled to host Minnesota in the Isobel Cup Final on March 13. The game is expected to be played before the league opens its 2020-21 season in mid-November.
Though U.S.-born, Murphy spent so much time recruiting Canadian players during her 22 seasons at Brown, she once joked about considering the possibility of retiring there.
After leaving Brown, where she won 318 games, she won two CWHL championships during three seasons coaching the Boston Blades. Murphy then spent the 2017-18 season coaching a CWHL expansion team in China, whose players included Darkangelo and Chuli.
Murphy said she has yet to secure a home rink, but doesn’t consider that to be an issue at this point. Saying she will stick to her role as president, Murphy is also in the process of hiring a coach and general manager.
She was brought on board by Boynton, whom she’s known for numerous years. Boynton runs a home-building construction company outside of Boston, and holds an ownership stake in the NWHL’s Boston Pride.
The Toronto team’s executive includes Tyler Tumminia, who has been named chairman. She serves as an executive at a firm which oversees numerous minor-league baseball teams.
Murphy envisions the potential of further NWHL expansion into Canada, particularly Montreal, but said she is focused solely on building the Toronto franchise.
Murphy said the challenges of establishing a team in Toronto will be what she called “a layup” as compared to China, which had little history in the sport.
“I’m going into the beautiful country of Canada that embraces hockey, and the greatest hockey city, and I’m like a kid in the candy store. This is fun,” she said.
And with nearly 8,000 adult females registered to play hockey in Ontario, Murphy is confident she can produce a competitive roster.
“I hope to not fail Toronto,” Murphy said. “I don’t’ want to get cocky and say, `We’re going to win the Cup,’ but I want to contend, baby.”
Woods joins the conversation as athletes continue to speak out – TSN
Athletes and notable names from the world of sports are speaking up as protests continue following the death of George Floyd last this week in Minneapolis.
Als RB Wilder leads CFLers message against racism and police brutality
Montreal Alouettes running back James Wilder Jr. posted a video to social media Tuesday of a number of CFL players sharing a message against systemic racism and police brutality.
“Called on some of my brothers all round the CFL to openly stand with me against Systemic Racism and Police Brutality. WITHOUT hesitation they STOOD!!! Now WE call on YOU to Proudly stand with us!!!! SILENCE IS VIOLENCE!!!!! #STANDTOGETHER
Among the CFLers to share the message were Adam Bighill, Henoc Muamba, Mike Reilly, Zach Collaros, Dacid Casarrubias, Bo Levi Mitchell, Shawn Lemon, Cody Fajardo, Dylan ynn, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Timothy Flanders, and Trevor Harris.
Toronto Argonauts receiver Juwan Brescacin also posted a message on social media, saying “we need to reach one common goal together which is equality.”
Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Nick Arbuckle joined the conversation on Tuesday as well.
“An entire half of my family shares the same skin colour as George Floyd, who was murdered by the police in Minneapolis last week. My wife is Black and our beautiful newborn daughter, Aaliyah, is biracial,” part of the statement read. “Even with Aaliyah being biracial, which comes with its own challenges, she will undoubtedly be viewed as Black in America when it comes to the justice system, school applications, police interactions, and everything else where prejudice and racism exists.
“That’s one of the things that has made it most difficult to find the words to express during these times.”
Struble: Being silent doesn’t ignite change
Defenceman prospect Jayden Struble, selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, shared a powerful message on Twitter Tuesday morning.
Struble said he’s angry with how many black lives have been taken without any consequences.
“To start I wanna say that I’ve been angry for a while now. Angry that I keep seeing innocent black lives taken at such a rate that the news seems incomplete without another victim,” said Struble, who is African American. “I’m angry that time and time again this country lets us know that black lives are disposable without any consequence. Angry that the “every man is equal” slogan proves to be just a slogan in this country.”
The 18-year-old went on to support the protests in North America and criticized people who are referring to the rioters as “thugs.”
“First of all these people rioting are not thugs, they’re not criminals, they’re not lower than you,” he wrote. “They are people so broken down by years of systematic racism, and discrimination, in a country who stands for freedom and equality. They’re people who have watched brothers and sisters, friends, and/or other people of colour be beaten, killed, and belittled, asking for help and justice, without the slightest hint of support or change. Peaceful protests got us NOWHERE. So before you u label people thugs, think about where this country could be if people in power listened, helped and implemented change.”
Reach Struble’s full statement below.
Woods joins the conversation
Tiger Woods took to Twitter Monday night to speak out for the first time since Floyd’s death.
“I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement,” Woods said. “They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line.”
Woods condemned the looting that has taken place in some areas, stating he learned from the Los Angeles riots in 1992 that “education is the best path forward.”
“We can make our points without burning the very neighborhoods we live in,” Woods said. “I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.”
Griffin III: No brand is more valuable than human rights
Dumba: I will not be silent about any racial injustice in our society again
Veteran Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba joined the conversation on Tuesday.
Marner: Now is the time to listen with intent
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner and goalie Frederik Andersen was two of many professional athletes and organizations to participate in #BlackoutDay on Twitter on Tuesday.
“I’ve been searching for the right thing to say – but I realize that now is the time to listen with intent, understanding and learn how we can help,” wrote Marner.
Andersen added shortly later: “Humanity can be incredible, and people have the capacity for so much more. Let’s all fight racism and hate and unite with compassion, respect and love.”
Stamkos makes a statement
Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos took to Twitter Tuesday morning regarding the death of George Floyd and the ongoing protests in the United States.
“I have watched, I have listened and now I am ready to speak. Since the senseless killing of George Floyd, I have had a hard time trying to articulate a way of expressing how I truly fell. Am I scared? Do I feel a sense of guilt being a white man? Am I part of the problem if I remain silent,” Stamkos wrote. ” I have watched and listened to the peaceful gatherings of people in protest and I have nothing but compassion and respect for that. I have also watched the looting and the riots. I certainly don’t approve of those action, but as many of YOU have opened my eyes to, I see that these action may be coming from real pain and suffering. I can at least try to comprehend that.”
The 30-year-old went on to say that he’ll continue to educate himself on the issue pf racism and encourages others to step up and speak up against it.
“I know that we don’t have all the answers right now, but I believe we can come together and continue this fight for change and a better tomorrow.”
New York Rangers defenceman Jacob Trouba says “as a privileged white male, it’s easy for me to live in this country,” and that even though it’s important to speak up when it comes to racial injustice, it’s “equally important to listen.”
“It’s been tough for me to find the words to say, so I haven’t. I’ve been listening. Educating myself. Letting others educate me before I speak. I thought I understood, but I didn’t. As a privileged white male, it’s easy for me to live in this country.
“I’ve always heard about the pain and fear of others but I don’t know if I ever truly sat with it and tried to imagine. I know that I will never know what it’s like. And now I know that as important as it is to speak up, it’s equally important to listen.
“Talk with your friends about racism, Black and White. Start conversations, self-reflect, listen, and engage. Black lives matter.”
Chargers coach Lynn discusses racial injustice: ‘I don’t want to just put [a statement] out there because it’s the right thing to do. I want change.’
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn shared his thoughts on George Floyd’s death and the ongoing protests, and racial injustice to LZ Granderson of the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, saying he’s ‘pissed off’ and wanted to do more than put out a statement.
“I’ve read some good statements,” Lynn told the LA Times. “I read Brian Flores from the Dolphins and I agree 100% with him. I read Doc Rivers’ statement and those guys spoke from the heart. I think statements are needed to bring awareness to the situation. But I want to do something too. I don’t want to just put [a statement] out there because it’s the right thing to do. I want change.”
“I haven’t done anything to make this a better place for my son. I remember having the talk with him when he was 16 about how to handle police and then at age 30 I called him up and just had the talk with him again because I’m so scared. I want to do something but to be honest with you, I don’t know what that is.”
“How do we effect that type of change? Where’s the accountability for that kind of [expletive]? That’s where I’m at right now. I’m angry, I’m pissed off and I don’t want to just put out a pretty statement.”
MLB memo on addressing injustice
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued an internal memo to all MLB employees on Monday concerning the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the subsequent protests around the United States. Manfred said baseball wants to be part of the solution.
“Addressing injustice requires action. Together we must bring about change. Baseball wants to be part of the solution,” the memo read.
A number of teams released statements Tuesday morning including the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets .
“Racism and silence in the face of it cannot be tolerated,” the Brewers statement read. The Brewers also said they are committed to working with their community to effect meaningful and lasting change.
“We stand with our state, our city, and community. We hope to be a part of positive change in our society,” the Mets statement read.
Former Toronto Blue Jays and current New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman retweeted the Mets’ statement with the caption BLACK LIVES MATTER.
American international RB Yedlin shares emotional message on Twitter
American international and Newcastle United RB DeAndre Yedlin shared an emotional message on Twitter Tuesday after the death of George Floyd.
Yedlin, who has represented the United States in international soccer, said his heart goes out in solidarity to George Floyd and his family, and “all of the countless number of victims that have had their lives taken at the hands of meaningless police brutality.”
Monty Williams validates Suns players’ feelings amid civil unrest
Infantino: Don’t punish Bundesliga players for George Floyd support – Sportsnet.ca
FIFA President Gianni Infantino stepped into the debate about Bundesliga players who protested during matches against the death of George Floyd, saying Tuesday that they should be applauded and not punished.
Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho was booked for taking off his jersey during a Bundesliga match so he could display a T-shirt emblazoned with “Justice for George Floyd.”
Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie carried the same messages on their body at the weekend in a technical breach of the game’s laws that led to the Germany soccer federation saying it was considering a disciplinary case despite expressing pride in their actions.
Floyd, a black man and former community college basketball player, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and stopped pleading for air. His death has sparked protests across the United States and in other countries.
“For the avoidance of doubt,” Infantino said, “in a FIFA competition the recent demonstrations of players in Bundesliga matches would deserve an applause and not a punishment.”
Infantino’s comments were published in a statement by FIFA and were set to feature in a letter to all 211 member associations. The statement also urged leagues to apply “common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”
The laws of the game prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.
European football’s governing body will also overlook that rule to allow Floyd tributes in continental competitions it oversees.
“Football is a sport which encourages tolerance, inclusion and justice,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said. “These are the same values being espoused by those showing solidarity to George Floyd.”
UEFA is hoping to resume the Champions League and Europa League in August after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“If a player in our competitions were to display a message or act symbolically to ask for equality for human beings,” Ceferin said, “the circumstances around the event should be taken into account in line with UEFA’s zero tolerance against racism.”
The English Football Association has already said it will adopt the stance urged by FIFA. The Premier League is due to resume on June 17 and clubs have been showing solidarity with Floyd.
Players from Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle have been pictured this week in training taking a knee as part of anti-racism gestures.
“Where any behaviours or gestures on the pitch that may constitute a breach of the laws of the game have to be assessed, they would be reviewed on a case by case basis with a common sense approach and understanding of their context,” the FA said earlier in a statement when asked about players’ tributes to Floyd.
NBA Projects 2020 Finals To Be Completed By October 12th – RealGM.com
The NBA has created a timeline for its 22-team format with games resuming on July 31st in Orlando.
The proposed model would run through October 12th for a potential Game 7 of The Finals. The NFL also has a Monday Night Football Game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers scheduled for Monday October 12th
The NBA’s Board of Governors will meet on Thursday with a vote likely to finalize a plan to restart the season. The league continues to work through details of the plan with the NBPA.
The 20-21 NBA regular season is expected to start in late December.
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