After 12 seasons of play, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League has announced that their board of directors has decided to end operations, effective May 1.
“Unfortunately, while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable,” the board said in a statement.
The CWHL was founded back in 2007 by players left without a team after the National Women’s Hockey League folded. Like all fledging sports leagues, it had some growing pains. It restructured in 2010, and saw multiple teams come and go in the following years. For the first decade, the league simply covered players’ expenses and offered some incentives for championships and awards, but in 2017 it began paying small salaries between $2,000 and $10,000 per player. This happened in conjunction with an expansion into China in preparation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“We know this plan is sustainable, it won’t just be paying them for one year. We have a plan in place and each year we will grow those stipends,” declared CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress at the time.
The end of the CWHL leaves the U.S.’s National Women’s Hockey League (founded in 2015) as the only professional hockey league remaining for North American women. That NWHL completed its fourth season earlier this month, and had been talking about a potential merger with the CWHL as far back as last year.