CWHL hopes NHL partnerships spark growth in league

Nov 15, 2012 | Sports

By Chanelle Seguin

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is hoping recent partnerships the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames have made with their sister teams will spark more funding alignments throughout the NHL and CWHL.

Brenda Andress, commissioner of the CWHL said that while assistance from two NHL teams targets their female counterparts in Toronto and Calgary, it will still provide growth throughout the whole league.

The Toronto Furies are one of two CWHL teams receiving a funding boost from their NHL alignment team. COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

“The Toronto Furies will work with the Toronto Maple Leafs with different aspects of marketing and community events to build that fan base, to build that partnership, and Calgary will do the same,” Andress told Humber News. “Does it benefit the CWHL itself? Absolutely. It benefits us because it brings about a whole new growth. As each team grows,  the CWHL grows with it.”

The Maple Leafs will be providing the Furies with $30,000 every year for the next five years, while the Flames will be distributing $20,000 annually over four years to their CWHL partnership team, which has been formed under the holding name of “Team Alberta.”  The team is currently looking for brand.

Andress said the money will mostly be going towards coaching and equipment for the two teams.

The Maples Leafs have been actively supporting women’s hockey through various contributions since 2008. One organization that has benefited from the support is the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association.

Fran Ryder, president of the OWHA, said she is also hoping the initiative will ignite other NHL teams to follow suit.

“Over the years the Toronto Maple Leafs have shown the importance of providing support to the teams and to the league,” said Ryder. “Really what women’s hockey is all about, and sports are all about, is giving girls and women the opportunity to participate. Not just to watch the game but also to participate as players.”

Listen: Fran Ryder

Adam Proteau, writer for The Hockey News, noted the irony of the NHL increasing support for female professionals, while their high-priced male counterparts are mired in a lockout that could kill the 2012-13 season. it’s important to realize the CWHL contains some of the best players in the world and they need to be supported as well, Proteau said.

“They’re the best in the world and to have a place for them to play where it’s not at all about making a fortune, or even about making a living salary, it’s just about playing the game . . . I think it’s the symbolism of that more so than any one area that it goes to. I think it’s a really good plan here.”