The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) was a professional women's ice hockey league. Established in 2007, the league consisted of teams in Canada, China, and the United States throughout its tenure. The league discontinued operations May 1, 2019.
|Canadian Women's Hockey League|
|Ceased||May 1, 2019|
|Commissioner||Brenda Andress (2007–2018)|
Jayna Hefford (2018 interim)
|Headquarters||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Calgary Inferno (2nd time)|
|Most titles||Les Canadiennes de Montreal (4 times)|
|TV partner(s)||Rogers Sportsnet|
The CWHL was an initiative spearheaded by players such as Lisa-Marie Breton, Allyson Fox, Kathleen Kauth, Kim McCullough, Sami Jo Small and Jennifer Botterill, all of whom played in the original National Women's Hockey League, which was disbanded in 2007. The players worked with a group of volunteer business people to form the CWHL by following the example of the National Lacrosse League. The league would be responsible for all travel, ice rental and uniform costs, plus some equipment, but would not pay players.
In 2007, Hockey Canada announced it would revamp the Esso Women's Nationals, with the Western Women's Hockey League champion and finalist meeting the Canadian Women's Hockey League champion and finalist. Beginning in 2009, teams from the two leagues competed for the Clarkson Cup at the end of the season until the leagues effectively merged, under the CWHL banner, in 2011. The Clarkson Cup would then become the playoff championship trophy for the CWHL.
In 2008–09, the Montreal Stars repeated as regular season champions, winning 25 of 30 games, and won CWHL Championship. The Stars would also go on to win the first Clarkson Cup over the Minnesota Whitecaps. The Stars would also take a third straight regular season championship the following season. However, the CWHL did not have an individual playoff champion in 2010 but would instead have a Clarkson Cup qualifying playoff for the third team. The Stars and Mississauga Chiefs qualified for the Cup tournament from their regular season records and the Brampton Thunder qualified through the playoff. The Thunder then played into the Clarkson Cup final but lost to the Whitecaps.
Prior to the 2010–11 season, the league underwent a structural reorganization. The CWHL considered the restructure a relaunch of the league. Among the changes included the Mississauga Chiefs, Ottawa Senators and Vaughan Flames teams ceasing operations, adding a new team in Toronto, and expanding into the United States with a team in Boston. The relaunch also branded the five teams after their respective locations, simply calling them Boston CWHL, Brampton CWHL, Burlington CWHL, Montreal CWHL, and Toronto CWHL. However, the CWHL teams that were playing in previous markets were commonly referred to as their former names, the Boston team called itself the Boston Blades, and the new Toronto team was sometimes called Toronto HC. The league also held its first player draft, although it was only for the three Greater Toronto Area teams as the league decided that since they do not pay a salary, it would be unfair to force players to be based outside their hometown. All five teams returned to having monikers and Toronto was officially branded as the Toronto Furies.
The league announced on April 19, 2011, that it would merge with the Western Women's Hockey League for the 2011–12 season. The merger featured one team based in both Edmonton and Calgary as a combination of the former WWHL franchises the Edmonton Chimos and Strathmore Rockies. The team (called Team Alberta) played their games in various locations around Alberta. The WWHL then denied that there was in fact no merger and that the WWHL would continue for the 2011–12 season with two new teams joining the league. Strathmore and Edmonton were welcome to depart the WWHL but the league would not disband as initially reported by the CWHL through various media outlets. However, WWHL effectively ceased operations with only two members (the Whitecaps and Manitoba Maple Leafs) playing a series of exhibition games against various teams and the Clarkson Cup became a CWHL-only championship.
Changes continued in 2012 with the Burlington Barracudas folding and Team Alberta taking on the nickname "Honeybadgers". The league also created a draft system whereby players in Boston, Alberta, and Montreal could choose which team they would play on, but players in the Toronto area could be forced to play for one of the two remaining Greater Toronto Area (GTA) teams, Brampton or Toronto. Further, a player's pre-draft declaration of the regional area in which they wished to play could be altered after the draft. As a result of these rules, players wishing to leave GTA teams to play in Boston, Alberta, or Montreal could do so as desired, without compensation to the GTA team that they left. Players who wished to leave one GTA team to go to the other GTA team could only be moved upon a trade between the teams.
On November 13, 2012, in a reversal from its previous position that sponsorships could not be directed to a particular team, the CWHL announced that the Toronto Furies would be partnering with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League in a multi-year deal by which the Maple Leafs would provide funding for coaches, equipment and travel expenses. The CWHL announced a similar partnership between the Alberta Honeybadgers team and the Calgary Flames, the Honeybadgers would then rebrand as the Calgary Inferno the following season. The Montreal Stars would follow the trend in 2015 with a partnership with the Montreal Canadiens by becoming Les Canadiennes.
It was announced on June 5, 2017, that the CWHL was expanding to China with Kunlun Red Star WIH, a team controlled by Kunlun Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League and the Vanke Rays. Each team is to play six games against its five rivals for a total of 30 games, 15 at home and 15 on the road. Travel costs will be minimized by having each North America-based team make one road trip to China to play a three-game series. Kunlun Red Star's road games would likewise be grouped into five three-game series. The announced reason for the China expansion is for the nation to develop its hockey teams in preparation for its recently awarded 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing.
Along with its expansion into China for the 2017–18 season, the league announced it would also begin paying its players for the first time. The finances for the player's salaries is to come from the increased revenue in China. Each player is set to make a minimum of $2,000 per season and a maximum of $10,000 with a team salary cap of $100,000. At the time of the announcement, it made the league the second fully professional women's hockey league in North America after the launch of the rival National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) in the United States in 2015.
In 2018, CWHL player Jessica Platt came out as a transgender woman, making her the first transgender woman to come out in North American professional hockey, and second transgender professional player after Harrison Browne came out as a transgender man in the NWHL in 2016.
On July 19, 2018, inaugural league commissioner Brenda Andress announced she would be stepping down and Jayna Hefford was named the interim commissioner. The league also consolidated their Chinese teams by ending the membership of the Vanke Rays and rebranding Kunlun Red Star as Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays.
On March 31, 2019, it was announced that the CWHL board of directors had decided that league would discontinue operations effective May 1, 2019. The Toronto Furies and Les Canadiennes announced that their teams would continue while the Calgary Inferno announced an intention to do everything in its power to continue women's hockey in Alberta. During the season, National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) commissioner Dani Rylan had been in talks with the CWHL about the possibility of a single league. In response to the abrupt folding of the CWHL, The Athletic reported that the NWHL was exploring adding teams in Canada to fill the markets left by the CWHL, likely adding the former Toronto and Montreal CWHL teams with the possibility of adding Calgary if a major donor could help with the costs. NWHL commissioner Rylan stated that the league would continue to pursue all opportunities to ensure the best players in Canada have a place to play.
On April 2, 2019, the NWHL announced the addition of two expansion franchises in Montreal and Toronto and support from the National Hockey League; the NHL’s financial support makes it one of the NWHL’s biggest financial sponsors. It is unknown if the NWHL will assume control of Les Canadiennes and the Furies or if the league will start new teams in Montreal and Toronto. The league is in conversations with all of the current stakeholders and partners within Montreal and Toronto, including Les Canadiennes de Montreal and the Toronto Furies.
Specialty television channel Sportsnet aired the playoffs and the All-Star Game from 2014–15 until 2018–19. The most watched game was the February 4, 2017 game between Montreal and Toronto, which averaged 136,400 viewers. This record was surpassed on 24 March 2019, when the 2019 Clarkson Cup Final aired on Sportsnet and over 170,000 people tuned in.
|Team||City||Primary Arena||Head Coach||Championships||Clarkson Cups||Formerly|
|Calgary Inferno||Calgary, Alberta||WinSport Canada||Ryan Hilderman
|2||2||Alberta Honeybadgers (2011–12)|
|Les Canadiennes de Montreal||Laval, Quebec||Place Bell||Dany Brunet||2||4||Montreal Stars (2007–15)|
|Markham Thunder||Markham, Ontario||Thornhill Community Centre||Jim Jackson||1||1||Brampton Thunder (1998–17)|
|Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays||Shenzhen, China||Shenzhen Dayun Arena||Bob Deraney||0||0||Kunlun Red Star WIH (2017–18)|
|Toronto Furies||Toronto, Ontario||Mastercard Centre||Courtney Kessel||1||1||Toronto CWHL "Aeros" (2010–11)|
|Worcester Blades||Worcester, Massachusetts||Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center||Paul Kennedy||2||2||Boston Blades (2010–18)|
|Team||City||Primary Arena||Championships||Clarkson Cups||Formerly|
|Burlington Barracudas||Burlington, Ontario||Appleby Ice Center||0||0|
|Mississauga Chiefs||Mississauga, Ontario||Hershey Centre||0||0|
|Ottawa Senators||Ottawa, Ontario||Bell Sensplex||0||0||CWHL Capital Canucks|
|Phénix du Québec||Montréal, Québec||0||0|
|Vanke Rays||Shenzhen, China||Shenzhen Dayun Arena||0||0|
|Vaughan Flames||Vaughan, Ontario||Vaughan Sports Village||0||0|
|Season||Champion||Points leader (team)||Points leader (player)|
|2007–08||Brampton Thunder||Montreal Stars (47)||Jennifer Botterill (61)|
|2008–09||Montreal Stars||Montreal Stars (49)||Jayna Hefford (69)|
|2009–10||Minnesota Whitecaps||Montreal Stars (48)||Sabrina Harbec (55)|
|2010–11||Montreal Stars||Montreal Stars (46)||Caroline Ouellette (69)|
|2011–12||Montreal Stars||Montreal Stars (51)||Meghan Agosta (80)|
|2012–13||Boston Blades||Boston Blades (39)||Meghan Agosta-Marciano (46)|
|2013–14||Toronto Furies||Montreal Stars (42)||Ann-Sophie Bettez (40)|
|2014–15||Boston Blades||Boston Blades (35)||Rebecca Johnston (37)|
|2015–16||Calgary Inferno||Les Canadiennes (42)||Marie-Philip Poulin (46)|
|2016–17||Les Canadiennes||Calgary Inferno (40)||Jess Jones (37)|
Marie-Philip Poulin (37)
|2017–18||Markham Thunder||Les Canadiennes (45)||Kelli Stack (49)|
|2018–19||Calgary Inferno||Calgary Inferno (47)||Marie-Philip Poulin (50)|
|2010||Tessa Bonhomme||Toronto Aeros||Ohio State Buckeyes|
|2011||Meghan Agosta||Montreal Stars||Mercyhurst Lakers|
|2012||Hillary Pattenden||Alberta Honeybadgers||Mercyhurst Lakers|
|2013||Jessica Wong||Alberta Honeybadgers||Minnesota–Duluth Bulldogs|
|2014||Laura Fortino||Brampton Thunder||Cornell Big Red|
|2015||Sarah Edney||Brampton Thunder||Harvard Crimson|
|2016||Kayla Tutino||Boston Blades||Boston Terriers|
|2017||Courtney Turner||Boston Blades||Union College Dutchwomen|
|Jennifer Botterill||Mississauga, Toronto||76||62||92||154|
|Sommer West||Mississauga, Burlington, Toronto||126||60||89||149|
|Jana (Harrigan) Head||Burlington, Brampton||140||64||70||134|
Most shutouts during the CWHL regular season. Kim St-Pierre (2008–09) and Sami Jo Small (2009–10) hold the single-season record with five shutouts.
|Sami Jo Small||Mississauga, Toronto||15|
|Mandy Cronin||Brampton, Burlington, Boston||6|
|Date||CWHL team||NCAA school||Score||CWHL goal scorers|
|Oct. 25, 2011||Brampton Thunder||Cornell Big Red women's ice hockey||Cornell, 6–0||None|
|Nov. 2, 2011||Brampton Thunder||Mercyhurst Lakers women's ice hockey||Brampton, 3–1||Jayna Hefford, Jesse Scanzano, Vicki Bendus|
The 1st Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game, took place on December 13, 2014 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Admission was free, and 6,850 people attended the game. The game aired live on Sportsnet One in Canada, as well as on the NHL Network in the United States. The event featured three 15-minute periods which aired on television, and had a Skills Competition following the game.
This edition of the All-Star Game featured a "fantasy draft" format akin to the NHL All-Star Game in order to determine the rosters. Fan balloting determined the team captains, which were goaltender Charline Labonte from the Montreal Stars, and rookie forward Jessica Campbell of the Calgary Inferno. The captains each chose 5 players for their team, and picked the remainder of their teams via mini-stick draw.
While this game was promoted as the first All-Star Game, there were in fact two previous All-Star Games played during the 2008-09 season. These two games featured CWHL All-Stars against NHL Alumni.2007–08 CWHL season
The 2007–08 CWHL season was the first season in Canadian Women's Hockey League history. Jayna Hefford was named CWHL Most Valuable Player and a CWHL Central All-Star. She led the league with 26 goals scored in 27 games played. Jayna Hefford was voted the league's regular-season Most Valuable Player. Jennifer Botterill won the Angela James Bowl after winning the league scoring title with 61 points and was voted the CWHL Top Forward. Becky Kellar was voted the CWHL Top Defender, Kim St-Pierre was voted the CWHL Top Goaltender, and Marie-Philip Poulin was voted the CWHL Outstanding Rookie.2008–09 CWHL season
The 2008–09 CWHL season is the second season of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). The Montreal Stars repeated as regular season champions, winning 25 of 30 games, and won CWHL Championship. Caroline Ouellette was voted the league's regular-season Most Valuable Player. Jayna Hefford won the Angela James Bowl with 69 points and was also voted the CWHL Top Forward. Becky Kellar was voted the CWHL Top Defender, Kim St-Pierre was voted the CWHL Top Goaltender, and Laura Hosier was voted the CWHL Outstanding Rookie.2009–10 CWHL season
The 2009–10 CWHL season was the third season in the history of the Canadian Women's Hockey League. the Montreal Stars repeated as regular season champions for the third straight year. Sabrina Harbec of the Stars won the Angela James Bowl as the top scorer and was voted the league's most valuable player, the CWHL Top Forward and a CWHL First Team All-Star. Teammate Annie Guay was voted CWHL Top Defender while Laura Hosier was voted CWHL Top Goaltender. Danielle Blanchard was voted CWHL Outstanding Rookie.2010–11 CWHL season
The 2010–11 CWHL season is the fourth in the history of the Canadian Women's Hockey League but was considered a reboot for the league after a major restructuring as an organization. For the season, the league was to run on a budget of $500,000 and players will pay for their own equipment.As part of the restructuring, officially, all five CWHL teams in the 2010–11 season were referred to by the league as their locations without any monikers and were considered "new" teams. However, since most of the locations had teams in the previous seasons, they were still commonly referenced as their monikers. The league returned to the team name usage for the following season.2016 Outdoor Women's Classic
The 2016 Outdoor Women's Classic presented by Scotiabank was an ice hockey game played on December 31, 2015, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, between the Boston Pride of the National Women's Hockey League and Les Canadiennes of the Canadian Women's Hockey League. It was the first outdoor ice hockey game between professional women's teams; it ended in a 1–1 tie. The game was played one day before the 2016 NHL Winter Classic, between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.2016–17 CWHL season
The 2016–17 CWHL season is the tenth in the history of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). Opening weekend took place on Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16, with a pair of series taking place in the Greater Toronto Area. The Toronto Furies hosted the Boston Blades in the first Heritage Game of the season. The 2016 Commissioners Trophy winning Canadiennes de Montreal took on the Brampton Thunder during opening weekend. The defending Clarkson Cup champion Calgary Inferno played their first game of the season on October 22, as they hosted the Brampton Thunder. Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre will be the host venue for the Clarkson Cup finals for the second consecutive year.2017 CWHL Draft
The 2017 CWHL draft was the eighth in the history of the Canadian Women's Hockey League. It took place on August 20, 2017, marking the first time that the Draft involved Kunlun Red Star WIH, one of two expansion teams in the league, who are also joined by the Vanke Rays.
The list of prospects for the Draft included goaltender Noora Raty from Finland, forward Alexandra Carpenter and Melodie Daoust. All three were participants in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Courtney Turner was selected with the first overall pick in the draft, claimed by the Boston Blades.2017–18 CWHL season
The 2017–18 CWHL season is the 11th season of the Canadian Women's Hockey League. This is also the first season in which the teams pay their players a salary. It would also prove to be the final full season in which Brenda Andress served as commissioner of the league, tendering her resignation on July 18, 2019.2018–19 CWHL season
The 2018–19 CWHL season was the 12th and final season of the Canadian Women's Hockey League.2nd Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game
The 2nd Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game, took place on January 23, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The game aired live on Sportsnet One in Canada as Team Black prevailed by a 5-1 tally against Team White.
The event featured three 20-minute periods. Among the players named as participants, Toronto Furies blueliner Sena Suzuki made history as the first international player (born outside of Canada and United States) to participate in the CWHL All-Star Game.3rd Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game
The 3rd Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game took place on February 12, 2017, at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The event featured three 20-minute periods, and 34 players were named as participants Jess Jones and Jillian Saulnier both scored a hat trick, becoming the first competitors in CWHL All-Star Game history to achieve the feat.4th Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game
The 4th Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game took place on January 20, 2019, at Scotiabank Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The event featured three 20-minute periods.
Brigitte Lacquette served as captain for Team Purple, while goaltender Liz Knox was the captain for Team Gold. Former NHL goaltender Curtis Joseph served in the capacity of head coach for Team Purple, with Cheryl Pounder serving as assistant coach. Glenn Healy was the head coach with Team Gold, as Charline Labonte took on the role of assistant coach.Brenda Andress
Brenda Andress was the first Commissioner for the Canadian Women's Hockey League, serving in the position from 2008-09 to 2017-18.Mississauga Chiefs
The Mississauga Chiefs were a professional women's ice hockey team that plays in Mississauga, Ontario. The team played in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) and the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). The team played its home games in Hershey Centre and in Iceland Mississauga of the Greater Toronto Area.Ottawa Lady Senators
The Ottawa Lady Senators are a women's ice hockey organization, based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The organization organizes teams in several age divisions, including Intermediate in the Provincial Women's Hockey League (PWHL). The women's senior-level ice hockey team formerly played in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), until 2010. The senior team was formerly known as the Ottawa Capital Canucks and the Ottawa Raiders.Vaughan Flames
The Vaughan Flames was a professional women's ice hockey team in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). The team played its home games at Vaughan Sports Village in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.Western Women's Hockey League
The Western Women's Hockey League (WWHL) was a women's hockey league in Canada. The league was established in 2004, and consisted of teams in Canada (some former National Women's Hockey League teams) and one from the United States. The league office was in Vancouver, British Columbia and managed by Recreation Sports Management.Worcester Blades
The Worcester Blades are a professional women's ice hockey team in the Canadian Women's Hockey League and are based in Worcester, Massachusetts, and play their home games at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. The team began play in the 2010–11 CWHL season as the Boston Blades and have won the Clarkson Cup twice, in 2013 and 2015.
After playing in several Boston-area arenas throughout its first eight seasons, the Blades moved to Worcester in 2018 and rebranded.
Canadian Women's Hockey League
Former arenas in the Canadian Women's Hockey League
Professional Women's Hockey seasons
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