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If Womens NBA can make it, so can Womens NHL

Feb 25, 2014 3:00 AM

The question came up to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about the possibility of a WNHL-type women’s pro hockey, much the way the WNBA operates in pro basketball.

Bettman gave a politically correct response, saying women’s hockey has come a long way and is gaining in talent, but it wouldn’t be feasible right now as a pro league. Seems the talent base isn’t deep enough.

That’s why Bettman is booed in every hockey rink in the NHL.

Anyone who watched that sensational gold medal game at Sochi, won in dramatic come-from-behind style by Canada, 3-2, in overtime against the United States could see women’s hockey has become an exciting game played by athletes of high skill.

When the NHL started becoming popular in the United States, there were only six teams – Toronto, Montreal, the New York Rangers, Boston, Detroit and Chicago.

With only six franchises, obviously major rivalries were created and teams were stacked with the best players.

 Expansion makes money and advances the sport, but it also deletes a lot of the depth in the league.

The timing is ideal for someone to step up and create at least a six-team women’s pro league, perhaps playing a WNBA-type schedule of games during the summer months, bridging the gap between the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the start of the new season.

It would be apropos if a new league was formed in those Original six cities as a throwback to hockey of old. 

And it would create more betting opportunities for us as we wait for football to arrive.

Women’s hockey is at its height in interest. Having to wait four years for the next relevant face off is as cruel as how the USA team must deal with the gold medal virtually in their hands.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gets cracked a lot in the USA for his policies. In a sense, Bettman is the NHL’s Putin. 

An overthrow of the NHL government might be a good thing for the women’s movement.

I, for one, would support it.

No gold, no nothing: As for the men’s hockey team, getting up for Finland in the bronze medal game just wasn’t in the cards. The 1-0 semifinal loss to Canada took the heart out and, to Finland’s credit, they took total advantage.

Now the question is: Do the American’s send their players in 2018? Major injuries suffered at Sochi, in particular the New York Islanders losing their best player John Tavares for the season, has team owners upset about having their best players at risk and having to shut down the league in midseason.

Good points, but without the best hockey players participating, the Olympics would suffer greatly.

 It’s a tough call, but the NHL should bend since it’s only once every four years. Clearly the players still want to play for their country.

Finland’s Teemu Selanne, who at 43 scored twice against Team USA and is having a standout NHL season, is a fine example.

Encore: Derek Jeter is a first ballot Hall of Famer in both talent and class. Announcing his intention to retire at the end of the 2014 season has taken all the pressure off him and the Yankees. 

Thank goodness all the retirement speculation was killed off at the beginning. 

Now we spend the entire season appreciating what Jeter has meant to the sport, much like last year when Mariano Rivera went out on his own terms.

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

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