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Maple Leafs support women's hockey, other NHL Clubs to follow?

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Ran across this great article. Thought others might be interested.

They are some of the best female hockey players Canada has ever produced.

They have won Olympic gold medals, captured world championships and inspired a generation of younger girls of all skill levels to pursue the game.

But when they’re not on the international stage before sellout crowds, many stay on top of their game playing in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It can be a humbling experience. Though the hockey is as good as they played at Canadian and American colleges, crowds are little more than 100 on average, media coverage is rare and team fundraisers are a requirement.

But that appears set to change as the Toronto Maple Leafs are throwing their support behind the Toronto Furies, one of five teams in the CWHL.

“It’s definitely great to see that the Leafs want to sponsor us and help make girls’ hockey prosper and get better,” said Rebecca Johnston, a 23-year-old forward on the Furies and Canadian national team who won gold at the 2010 Olympics. “It shows that our league is being taken more seriously.”

Under the five-year agreement, which is to be announced Tuesday, the Leafs will invest $30,000 annually toward the Furies’ coaching costs, equipment, uniforms and travel expenses. The NHL team will also offer support via its website, at Leafs home games and on Leafs TV, to help grow girls’ hockey.

“The Maple Leafs consider it a core value to be a leader in the local community and we have an obligation to help influence the game at all levels,” former NHLer Dave Poulin, the Leafs’ vice-president of hockey operations, said in a news release to be sent out Tuesday.

It’s also hoped that with the Leafs backing the Furies, other NHL teams will throw their support behind the league’s four other teams. The Calgary Flames and Team Alberta are expected to announce a similar deal Tuesday.

There’s hope that the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins will soon reach deals with the CWHL teams in their cities. The fifth team, the Brampton Hockey Club, is also hoping to strike an arrangement with an NHL team.

To mark the Furies-Leafs deal, Toronto will host Team Alberta at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday in a game free to the public. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. with an autograph session featuring Leafs alumni Wendel Clark, Gary Leeman and Johnny Bower as well as a number of former women’s national team stars, including Geraldine Heaney and Hall of Famer Angela James.

Eight players on Alberta and the Furies played for Canada at the Four Nations Cup in Finland, where they lost 3-0 to the U.S. in Saturday’s final.

“Fans will be impressed with the quality of the hockey,” said Furies goalie Sami Jo Small, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion. “There’s more than a dozen Olympians on the ice each week.

“Having MLSE and the Leafs involved sends a message we’re here to stay.”

The CWHL, formed in the spring of 2007 following the dissolution of the National Women’s Hockey League, operates on a budget of about $700,000 per season. Players have often come directly from the collegiate ranks.

The women in the league, who are not paid, have their travel and accommodation costs covered but must pay for their meals on road trips.

Last season, the Furies held a poker tournament and silent auction at a downtown Toronto bar to help cover the $15,000 cost of their coaches.

This deal alleviates the need for such events to raise money for hockey operations, giving the women more time to focus on their game and “giving back to the sport’s grassroots” through such things as skills clinics for young girls, said Furies general manager Rebecca Davies, a former player.

“It allows them to focus on what the league is all about and that’s the on-ice product,” said Davies, who played the last two seasons with the Furies following a four-year college career at St. Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia.

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they should sell swimsuit calendars. that might raise some money.

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As the article speculated, the Flames have announced a similar deal...

http://www.cwhl.ca/view/cwhl/news/news_59410

I think what they are doing is fantastic. I attended a few Oval Extreme games when I lived in Calgary. I always thought they could benefit from a partnership like this.

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Some would say that the Laffs have been playing like women for years, but good on them for supporting the real thing now.

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Thanks for the article. A few years ago I wouldn't have given it much thought but now being the Father to a six month old baby girl. I like the idea,nice to see some strides made by the Leafs for this cause.

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There should be a women team along with every NHL team in at least 10 cities. 7 canadian and 3 in USA and the NHL team should fund those team and get the tax deductions too along with helping hockey. they should play in same rink and on same night if they can and have short season of like 30 games each.

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Fantastic news for the league. I have also heard from a few people who are involved in pro women's hockey that Boston and Montreal (both of whom have CWHL teams) are looking to strike similar partnerships with the Bruins and Habs respectively.

That leaves Brampton as the only CWHL team who doesn't have a partnering NHL team. As the Canucks are one of the most profitable franchises in the league, and seeing as Vancouver is now part of the women's hockey legacy with Team Canada winning Olympic gold here, I think it would be a really great gesture for the Canucks to step up and offer up some funding for Brampton. It would be a bit different than the other partnerships simply because the two teams are not in close proximity to each other so it's not like Brampton could play games at Rogers Arena, but the involvement would be huge.

Alternately, the Canucks could put in a bid to establish a CWHL team here in Vancouver, which I think would be tremendous. Exposure is key and our province is severely lacking when it comes to exposure to high level women's hockey. The closest thing we have is the UBC Tbirds who aren't exactly dominating the CIS nor do they have any notable names to watch on their roster.

WPS (women's pro soccer) had so many more fans than the CWHL and yet they folded. I was afraid of the same fate for the CWHL. That league goes and suddenly all the progress the sport has made is totally erased. We are back at square one. This support is huge and it'll mean that we actually have a chance to improve the league and the quality of skill that's being put out there.

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I agree, I'd love to see the Canucks supporting a women's team, though I'd definitely prefer it was a team here we could go and watch play. Still with these sponsorship deals being so cheap for the NHL teams but potentially meaning so much for the women's teams, there's absolutely no reason any women's team should not get an NHL sponsor, regardless of location.

Supporting women's hockey could easily be a part of the NHL's program to support grass roots hockey. The idea behind supporting grass roots hockey isn't to create more NHL players, it's to create new NHL fans and getting more people involved with the sport (as a player, coach, parent or fan) can only help in that cause, especially in the US.

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As great as this is for Canadian Women's hockey, I would love if they could also extend some help (or expertise) to overseas teams. One of the biggest problems in women's hockey is the talent gap between nations. In order for both Canadian and American women's hockey to grow, there needs to be more competition on the international stage.

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Good for the Leafs, even though i feel women's hockey isnt even close to the men's. Womens hockey is Midget AAA comparable, please don't take it the wrong way (I played a few exhibition games against these female leagues and it is normally a difference of 1 or 2 goals) . With this support more women will watch the games and will get the passion for the sport. Hopefully more will pursue a career in hockey, creating higher competition and skill.

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Good for the Leafs, even though i feel women's hockey isnt even close to the men's. Womens hockey is Midget AAA comparable, please don't take it the wrong way (I played a few exhibition games against these female leagues and it is normally a difference of 1 or 2 goals) . With this support more women will watch the games and will get the passion for the sport. Hopefully more will pursue a career in hockey, creating higher competition and skill.

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The calibre of play will increase as the generation of players gets deeper. In the same way that Gretzky was better than Howe and Crosby is better than Gretzky, we will see the same progression for women's hockey. We already are. The likes of Tessa Bonhomme, Marie Philip Poulin, and the Lamoureux twins are in far better shape and have far superior skills to the players of the past.

One thing I really liked was the fact that people who own season tickets to the Flames, Hitmen, Roughnecks, or Stampeders will be given free access to watch Calgary CWHL home games. So essentially it's a good quality of hockey and a great way to kill time and support the passionate athletes on most weekends in Calgary. It's a way to get people into the arena and it'll generate some interest and support from locals.

Goodness knows Flames fans deserve some decent quality hockey ;)

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See now I feel bad taking a jab at the Flames because they're doing such a good thing by supporting the CWHL...argh damn!

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See now I feel bad taking a jab at the Flames because they're doing such a good thing by supporting the CWHL...argh damn!

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The calibre of play will increase as the generation of players gets deeper. In the same way that Gretzky was better than Howe and Crosby is better than Gretzky, we will see the same progression for women's hockey. We already are. The likes of Tessa Bonhomme, Marie Philip Poulin, and the Lamoureux twins are in far better shape and have far superior skills to the players of the past.

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No one watches women's hockey, only time any one did was during the Olympics. Like the article states barely 100 ppl go to games and I bet most of them are family and friends of the players and coaches. I wouldn't go if the tickets were free. I think this a waste of money.

The leafs should spend the $30k per year on a better cause and so should the other teams with similar plans. Perhaps help wounded war vets or add to the help they provide to needy or sick children.

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Just because people aren't watching now doesn't mean they shouldn't be or wouldn't in the future, especially if they continue to develop talent and raise the level of the game. Even just advertising alone to let people know they are there might help improve attendance. After all, growing viewership out of people who don't care is the NHL's main mission these days. Why should women's hockey be any different?

Wait, don't bother answering that, because you were obviously just trolling this thread.

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