Canadian Women's Hockey League

State of the League Address

To our loyal fans,

From the outset, thank you for your continued support. As the Canadian Women’s Hockey League enters its 2012-13 campaign, the league is confident that the female game will take flight on the shoulders of some of our newest draft picks.

With players such as  Olympic Winter Games gold medallist Rebecca Johnston joining the Toronto ranks, her Vancouver 2010 Team Canada teammate lacing up her skates to play in the CWHL and international superstar netminders Labonté and Schelling both drafted to Montreal this season, the 2012 CWHL Draft undoubtedly produced the finest rookie crop since the league’s inception.

With the quality of elite players available in said draft, the general managers and I sincerely believe that a golden age of CWHL hockey is upon us. Last year was a standout itself, with first-year player Meghan Agosta shattering the league scoring record for points in a season and sparking a sense of growing excitement across the entire league. With that momentum moving us forward, it is my belief that Agosta’s spectacular opening season, and the league’s increasing success overall, are signs of glorious things to come.

Our franchises in Alberta, Boston, Brampton, Montreal and Toronto are committed to providing our fans with the best possible hockey experience, and while the competition will  be tough on the ice, these teams will continue to work together to strengthen and grow our league, while also giving back to our communities.

Part of our commitment to giving back to communities in 2011-12 saw the league and its players undertake various non-profit pursuits, including a four-game charity series between Boston and Montreal to help raise funds for breast cancer research. Two games were held in Montreal and two in Agosta’s hometown of Windsor, Ont., with proceeds supporting the Québec Breast Cancer Foundation and the Windsor & Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation. The pink jerseys donned by the Montreal Stars were auctioned off to fans, just one of many innovative ways players and teams worked together to reach out to their communities.

Many CWHL players, have also given their time and efforts to Hockey Helps the Homeless, several Burlington players participating in the first women’s hockey tournament in support of this worthy cause held in Newmarket, Ont., in November 2011, and Montreal players teaming up with McGill University of Canadian Interuniversity Sport to help out at a second charity tournament in Kanata, Ont. Of note, Toronto player Amanda Shaw participated in both Hockey Helps the Homeless events.

Although the Burlington Barracudas will not be partaking in this upcoming season, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the community of Burlington, Ont., for its support over the years. The Barracudas franchise brought us many great players, including four-time Olympic Winter Games participant Becky Kellar, who won one silver medal and three gold medals with Canada’s National Women’s Team. We wholeheartedly acknowledge Burlington’s impact on CWHL hockey history, including becoming the very first franchise to draft a player from Europe.

Going forward, we are ecstatic to have Brown University Bears coaching legend Digit Murphy join the CWHL family. The first women’s coach to earn both 200 and 300 NCAA wins, Murphy is at the helm of the Boston Blades, our only American-based franchise, as its coach and general manager.

In Alberta, former IIHF official Chantal Champagne, also an administrator with Canada’s National Sledge Team and Tim Bothwell, who has worked with Canadian National Women’s Team, headline some of the changes to the CWHL’s newest franchise, entering its second season this year.

Our franchises in the Greater Toronto Area have also undergone changes. Brampton is proud to welcome Rick Traugott, founder of the North American Prep Hockey Association, as its new head coach. Additionally, Rebecca Davies, a former Toronto Furies player, has assumed General Manager’s duties with the franchise. Sommer West, who played in the CWHL during its inaugural season in 2007-08 and has retired from the Burlington Barracudas, also brings her vast knowledge of the women’s game to the Toronto leadership team as assistant coach.

While the league has reduced its number of teams heading into the new season, we promise that the quality of our game will only continue to expand. As the Montreal Stars look to win their third consecutive Clarkson Cup, the showcase event of the league guarantees to provide more legendary moments, and plenty of pulse pounding action.

As the league continues to evolve, it goes without saying that we are constantly creating our own history. When asked why the players and I do this, it is that we truly believe we can make a difference.  Each time we get a fan or sponsor to believe in the dream, the league becomes stronger. Only together can we accomplish our ultimate dream of a truly professional league. 

With a brand new season on the horizon, and a rookie crop that promises to redefine our game, the best is yet to come. All of our players in the CWHL family – players, coaching staff, management and the Commissioner’s Office – sincerely hope that you enjoy the upcoming season.

Cordially Yours,
Brenda Andress
Canadian Women’s Hockey League