While there have been a few calls for the NHL as a whole to stand up and support the Canadian Women's Hockey League, it hasn't been an overwhelming amount of voices putting pressure on them. Yet, the Montreal Canadiens have taken it upon themselves to create an affiliation with the Montreal Stars of the CWHL to help promote and grow the game.
According to the Canadiens, they will make their infrastructure and resources available to the Stars, as well as their marketing, advertising, and sponsorship powers in order to stimulate growth. The Canadiens will also be selling Montreal Stars merchandise alongside their own, associating the CWHL club with the most powerful brand in the province.
The Canadiens will also continue a tradition they started last summer, building hockey camps and conditioning clinics for female players, something that was universally well received last time around.
Geoff Molson, President and CEO of the Habs, had this to say in regards to the affiliation:
"As a professional hockey organization, we have been closely involved in minor hockey development for many years in Quebec, and with the growing popularity of women's hockey over the last decade, I think this is the right time to concretely support women who play professional hockey, and, at the same time, promote the sport among up-and-coming players."
Brenda Andress, the commissioner of the CWHL, was overjoyed with the announcement, saying:
"Entering into a partnership with the Montreal Canadiens affords the CWHL an opportunity to grow women's hockey hand in hand with one of the most storied franchises in professional sport. Female hockey players in Quebec and around the world, along with fans of the CWHL, will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the work we do together."
Some information about the CWHL and Montreal Stars from the Canadiens' press release:
The CWHL was founded in 2007, and today includes five teams in Canada and the USA, including the Montreal Stars, who, in 2009 won the inaugural Clarkson Cup, the highest symbol of achievement in women's hockey. The Stars remain the most successful team in the CWHL since the league was born, having also won the Clarkson Cup in 2011 and 2012.
The Montreal Stars' roster features several players who performed at the national level representing Canada on the international stage (Charline Labonté, Lauriane Rougeau, Caroline Ouellette and Cathy Chartrand) and who played university hockey in Canada (CIS), such as Ann-Sophie Bettez, Stacie Tardif, Erin Lally, Sophie Brault, Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux, Fannie Desforges, Catherine Herron, Cassandra Dupuis and Emilie Bocchia or in the NCAA in the United States, like Emmanuelle Blais, Julie Chu and Sara Dagenais.
About the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL)
The CWHL is the world's premier, professionally-run women's hockey league. It enables elite female hockey players to pursue their dreams of competing at the highest level possible, while enhancing the lives of others through exceptional athleticism, entertainment and motivation. The league is centrally funded, with all participating teams in the CWHL receiving equal access to financial support and given the same opportunities to succeed. The CWHL is a not-for-profit organization, with every dollar going towards building a league that is dedicated to raising the profile of women's hockey, providing a place for the best female players in the world to compete and inspiring the next generation of female hockey heroines.