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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

The Wraparound: Beijing a building ground for women's hockey?

There’s no mistake. The Olympics are the time to shine for women’s hockey. Beijing 2022 furthered this trend with another classic final between the United States and Canada. After an upsetting American victory in Pyeongchang in 2018, Canada brought back the gold with a 3–2 win on Feb. 16. Superstar forward Marie-Philip Poulin scored two goals and one assist, and 27-year-old netminder Ann-Renée Desbiens backstopped the Canadians with 38 saves. But as fans only get treated to this display once every four years, it prompts the question, should the women’s hockey spectacle be limited to an Olympic sport?

The answer is a clear no. With such premier talent coming out of North America from both sides of the border, there absolutely needs to be a more prominent women’s league in the region. The Premier Hockey Federation — the current league — was supposed to be just that. Born in 2015, the PHF is the first women’s hockey league to pay its players, starting with salaries of around $20,000 during the first season. However, more than 200 athletes decided to boycott this league after the Pyeongchang Olympics because the salaries they were earning were too low to make a living. The result has been criminal — a handful of years where the premier talent of the women’s game has been kept off the grand stage. That talent, such as Poulin and Desbiens of Canada and Hilary Knight of the United States, only comes out of hibernation for the Olympics.

The good news is that the PHF has agreed to double every team’s salary cap for the upcoming 2022–23 season — a move that will undoubtedly allow teams to increase players’ wages. Time will tell if this will actually bring stars back to the PHF, but at the very least, it’s a step in the right direction. And who wouldn’t want more blood-sweat-and-tears action from these Olympic stars?

Some thoughts from around the NHL:

  1. No team is on the upswing more than the red-hot Calgary Flames. Monday night’s 3–1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets makes it seven in a row for Darryl Sutter’s team, which is shaping up to be a threat come playoff time.
  2. Since last week’s edition was released, the Montreal Canadiens have won three in a row under new head coach Martin St. Louis.
  3. Trade rumors continue to swirl: players supposedly on the chopping block include Flyers long-time captain Claude Giroux, Canucks forward J.T. Miller and Coyotes young defenseman Jakob Chychrun — a rare elite, cost-controlled player who will fetch a bounty if indeed traded.
  4. Massachusetts native Jack Eichel made his debut for the Vegas Golden Knights last Wednesday. The former Sabres superstar battled injury, trade wars and a standoff with Buffalo ownership to get back on the ice this season. Eichel scored his first goal as a Golden Knight on Sunday against the Sharks. 
  5. Pittsburgh captain and league icon Sidney Crosby scored his 500th goal on Feb. 15. Already a Hall of Fame lock, Sid the Kid joins Mario Lemieux as the only other Penguin to accomplish this milestone — and naturally sealed it against his archrivals the Philadelphia Flyers.

Enjoy the action this week!

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