“BIG DAY IN WOMEN’S HOCKEY: THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA”
When Brianne Jenner arrived at the TD Place arena in Ottawa on Wednesday, she was overcome with emotion. It was at this arena over 30 years ago that women’s hockey was greatly advanced by the inaugural Women’s World Championship. Another significant milestone in the history of women’s hockey awaited her that day – the beginning of training camp for the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), which she had long dreamed of being part of. She has indeed secured Olympic gold medals and world championships, but the start of her PWHL career holds a place near the top of her career accomplishments.
A DAY OF ‘DREAM JOBS’ AND TEAM-BUILDING IN OTTAWA
The first ever gathering of players from all six of the league’s markets took place on that day. They were introduced to teammates and undertook off-ice testing before hitting the ice for their first training session later that week. For the players in Ottawa, they were heartened by a warm welcome, a sumptuous breakfast spread, and a brand new dedicated dressing room. For many of these professional female hockey players, a dressing room of their own is something that they had not experienced.
BEGINNINGS OF A NEW TEAM
General manager Mike Hirshfeld expressed that while on-ice training would be important, the primary goal during the camp would be to lay the foundation for building a new team from scratch. The team’s priority will be to ensure that a winning team is composed of players who possess both exceptional skill and great teamwork. The management emphasized the importance of understanding the strengths and attributes that each player brings to the team. Hirshfeld and head coach Carla MacLeod are investing time and efforts to align players to their strengths, focusing their energies on helping players realize their full potential during the six-week camp.
Mountain to Climb
While the first days of the camps were marked by excitement and optimism, the road ahead for the league remains extensive. The league lacks a schedule and the necessary supports to start selling tickets. Furthermore, team names and logos may not be finalized in time for the league’s launch in January. The promptness of these preparations will be key to ensuring a successful launch.
As the dawn of a new era in women’s hockey approaches, players, league owners, and fans eagerly anticipate the rise of the PWHL. With the shared willingness of all members involved, they are committed to overcoming the hurdles that may exist and realize the potential to make women’s hockey more visible and accessible. The PWHL has the potential to shape the future landscape of women’s hockey, shifting the boundaries and opening the doors for more opportunities on the professional stage.
The birth of the PWHL represents a significant turning point for women’s hockey, providing a platform for a new generation of talent. As the league prepares to embark on this milestone journey, much promise and potential lie ahead, creating a thrill of anticipation for everyone involved.