Saying business model is “financially unsustainable,” the CWHL is folding

A record-175,000 fans tuned in to watch the Clarkson Cup finale in Toronto

<!— Photo: CPT101539460.jpg, Caption: Calgary Inferno’s Zoe Hickel (left) and Tori Hickel celebrate with the trophy after beating Les Canadiennes de Montreal 5-2 to win the 2019 Clarkson Cup game in Toronto, on Sunday, March 24 , 2019. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is no more. The CWHL’s board of directors have decided to discontinue operations May 1 of this year, the league has announced. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League is no more despite a recent surge in the visibility of the women’s game.

A week after the Calgary Inferno won the league championship and hoisted the Clarkson Cup trophy, the CWHL announced Sunday morning in Toronto that the 12-year-old league will discontinue operations May 1.

“Unfortunately, while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable,” the league said in a statement.

A record-175,000 fans tuned in to watch the Clarkson Cup finale in Toronto.

READ MORE: Hayley Wickenheiser says women’s hockey has ‘come a long way’

The CWHL was founded in 2007, and had six teams in North America and China this past season.

The league included national team players from the United States, Canada, Finland, Japan and China.

“I’m heartbroken at the news of the #CWHL folding,” Calgary Inferno forward Brianne Jenner said on Twitter.

“Hard to process this after our most successful season to date. Thank you to the builders, players, coaches, GMs, fans that made it possible for 12 seasons. We will rebound from this.”

Sami Jo Small, who co-founded the league in 2007, was named general manager of the Toronto Furies last summer.

“I have no idea what this means for the future, but this is heartbreaking,” Small tweeted. “We will work hard to ensure there is still women’s hockey in Toronto.”

Inferno forward Blayre Turnbull and Les Canadiennes de Montreal forward Marie-Philip Poulin posted identical reaction on Twitter:

“This morning we were informed the #CWHL is folding. As players, we will do our best to find a solution so this isn’t our last season of hockey but it’s hard to remain optimistic. #NoLeague.”

The CWHL operates like the MLS in that the league owns the teams.

Former player Jayna Hefford was appointed interim commissioner last year when Brenda Andress stepped down.

The CWHL began paying its players salaries in 2017-18 ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, out of a total budget of $3.7 million.

The addition of two expansion teams in China that season — since amalgamated into one — was believed to have injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the CWHL.

But the CWHL lost a major financial backer in November when longtime supporter Graeme Roustan withdrew the sponsorship of his venture capital firm Roustan Capital.

And the new coach of the Chinese women’s team hinted recently that he hopes the players soon won’t have to travel internationally to develop into better players.

“I think the biggest goal now is to have a league or some competitions here in China where we can play good games,” Jakob Kolliker told China Daily.

“It’s important for the future.”

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberni school district takes a week off to plan for online education

All buildings and playgrounds in School District 70 closed to the public

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID 19: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

Some Indigenous communities are enacting emergency measures to cope during pandemic

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Most Read