Thursday Thoughts: Women’s hockey is important, and deserves better

As we swing into another Thursday Thoughts, I can’t help but comment on Boston Bruins fans. Well, maybe not the entire fanbase, but certainly the ones that use social media to insert their slightly less than brilliant observations about hockey. There is one fact that many of those Bruins fans, and lots of hockey fans in general, can’t seem to grasp: it’s not the goaltender’s fault every time the puck goes into the net.

Some of the comments on Tuukka Rask border on high comedy. Even when he makes a save these so-called “experts” find fault in something he did and use that as a basis for him to be traded or sent to the minors. They then want to insert Jaroslav Halak as the team’s number one netminder. Apparently, they missed the playoffs last season while Halak has shown he’s a more than capable back-up he also showed that he’s not an everyday goaltender. We won’t even bother explaining why sending a player with what would be a 6.1 million dollar salary cap hit is a bad idea.

Plus if he’s so bad why would a team trade for him and take on that cap hit? Armchair GMs never seem to understand that this isn’t a video game, where you can make trades involving players you don’t like with impunity. Every trade or assignment to the minors, especially involving star players, is a chance a big-named free-agent won’t be interested in coming to your team.

Now it seems some of the geniuses have turned their sights on Halak. Monday night Halak gave up a goal on a long-range shot from former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. They claim that because Halak could see the puck all the way from the shot to himself he automatically should be able to save it, so it’s a soft goal. Someone needs to explain to me how it’s possible that when Chara scored that kind of goal for Boston it was all due to his skill but when he scored one against the Bruins it’s the goaltender’s fault.

I suspect I’ll be waiting for that explanation for a long time.

Local Collegiate Results
The Holy Cross Men’s hockey team didn’t get their week off on the right foot, getting blown of out the Hart Center 6-0 by American International College. It didn’t get any better in their Saturday rematch at the MassMutual Center in Springfield as the Crusaders allowed three second-period goals in a 3-0 loss to the Yellow Jacket.

Also on Saturday, the Holy Cross Men’s basketball team, who along with the Women’s team had their weekend series with Boston University postponed, instead took on Colgate. The Raiders had their previously scheduled weekend set against Army postponed, so some schedule shuffling put the two Patriot League rivals together for a pair at the Hart Center. The Crusader erased a ten-point halftime deficit but were outscored 13-2 in the overtime to drop the contest 74-63. Junior forward Gerrale Gates posted a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds for Holy Cross. On Sunday the Men’s losing streak went to six games as they were handed another defeat by Colgate, this time a 78-60 loss in regulation. Gates posted his fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Boston Teams This Week
Friday
Bruins @ Philadelphia; 7pm
Celtics @ LA Clippers, 10pm
Sunday
Celtics @ Pheonix, 2pm
Tuesday
Celtics @ Utah, 10pm
Wednesday
Bruins @ NY Rangers, 7pm

Worcester Hockey Alumni Highlights
Last Wednesday Ryan Carpenter goal

Last Thursday Brodie Reid goal

Last Thursday Joe Pavelski goal

Saturday Alec March goal

Saturday Nic Pierog two goals

Saturday Joe Pavelski goal

Sunday Spencer Asuchak goal

Monday Yanni Gourde two goals

Tuesday Joe Pavelski two goals

Leaders in women’s hockey can’t get their act straight
As I put the finishing touches on this week’s edition news came down from the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) had suspended the remained for the season, which had been taking place in Lake Placid, New York, due to numerous positive COVID tests. So I’ll put what I had written for here on the back burner and talk about that for a few moments.

Things began to unravel for the league last week when the Metropolitan Riveters pulled out of the season after several positive COVID tests at the end of the five-game regular season. The NWHL then changed their scheduled round-robin playoff seeding tournament with a best-of-three series between the Boston Pride and the Buffalo Beauts, which Boston won to claim the third seed. During game three that would have determined if the Pride or Beauts advanced to the playoffs, the Connecticut Whale withdrew from the remainder of the season. While no reason was given as to why the Whale withdrew, the team had several players missing from its lineup in Sunday’s night game.

One of the big issues the NHWL had with their Lake Placid bubble was it wasn’t really a bubble. Reports of players being able to come and go as they please seem to defeat the whole idea of what a bubble is supposed to be. Now add that teams were adding players to their rosters and these players were allowed to play and take part in team activities right away without quarantining inside the bubble and you’ve got the potential for a large COVID breakout.

Which, it seems, happened.

The announcement came just hours after the league announced that Dick’s Sporting Goods would become a major presenting sponsor for its Isobel Cup and MVP award. It’s important for the league to have large corporate sponsorship considering that ticket and merchandise sales don’t cover expenses for the teams. The cancelation of the remainder of the season also means the potential to grow their product with the semi-finals and finals scheduled to be aired on NBCSN is now lost.

This is another major blow to both women’s hockey and the NWHL. With the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) and the NWHL still at odds and seemingly not interested in working things out all fans of women’s hockey lose out. This is probably a good time to bury the hatchet, although like their male counterparts it seems that these organizations never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. They both need each other and are doing the sport of women’s hockey a massive disservice.

It’s time for NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia and whoever is in charge of the PWHPA (I’d gladly name that person if their website actually listed who it is) to get locked into a room and not be let out until they come up with an agreement. It’s simply impossible for women’s hockey to grow with two rival organizations working against each other. The NHL won’t get involved as a league with these two organizations existing in the manner that they do. The NHL is doing exactly what they did before when the NWHL and CWHL were both playing; they’re simply waiting until there’s just one party to deal with.

The NWHL and PWHPA need to realize this. Until they decide to work together there is no chance of woman’s hockey growing its audience. The two organizations need to figure out a way to both get what they need and to work together. If they fail to do that there is zero chance that anything positive will happen in their sport.

And the players and fans deserve better than that.

Stuff you may have missed from 210Sports this week
Super Bowl LV Schedule, TV, Announcers
January in Worcester hockey history
Nothing But Shenanigans Podcast: The Shenanigans of Super Bowl picks and player retirements (Podcast)

Not so big finish
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