Canadian Women’s Hockey League to shut down in May

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The final Clarkson Cup was played on March 24. | Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League, one of the two major professional women’s hockey leagues in North America, will discontinue operations on May 1. The league’s board of directors announced the decision to shutter the league Sunday, just a week after it held the latest Clarkson Cup title game.

“New management, led by Jayna Hefford, and the new Board, put in place in Summer and Fall 2018, respectively, have proactively worked with our contract staff, players, GMs, industry partners and corporate sponsors to establish an adequate revenue base, good governance, and high-quality hockey on the ice,” the announcement says.

“Unfortunately the business model that has been the foundation of the League is not sustainable financially.”

The CWHL started operations in 2007 and presently includes four teams in Canada, one team in the United States and one team in China. The league did not pay its players for most of its existence, only announcing a pay structure starting with the 2017-18 season. The maximum salary had been set at $10,000.

There had been growing popularity for the game, as the league says over 175,000 people watched this year’s Clarkson Cup online. The Calgary Inferno topped Les Canadiennes, 5-2, to win the championship.

However, it appears that wasn’t enough to keep the CWHL alive. There’s still another professional league, National Women’s Hockey League, that’s operating primarily in the U.S. There had been reports of a possible merger between the CWHL and NWHL, or possibly some kind of partnership involving the NHL, but it’s unclear what happens to women’s professional hockey in North America from here.

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