Boston v Montreal games scheduled for this weekend (Sat. & Sun.) are cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Apologies to our fans.— CWHL Insider (@cwhl_insider) November 22, 2014
The Canadian Women's Hockey League announced via Twitter on November 22nd around noon that Saturday's game against the Boston Blades and Montreal Stars had been cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances." Nearly four hours later they sent the second tweet (shown above) stating that both games of the weekend series would not be played. Sources aware of the situation have indicated that this is due to an ongoing, heated contract dispute between Blades players and the League. Many of the League's players are unrepresented by agents and work day jobs to obtain income since the CWHL does not provide salary to its players, but does cover certain playing expenses.
Other CWHL games this weekend went on as planned, and the Boston Blades are the only team known to be in dispute with the League about their contracts. The League is currently in its eighth season, having grown significantly since its inception and attracting high-level talent, including Olympians, as well as highly regarded college players seeking the opportunity to continue their hockey careers after graduation. The CWHL is currently the only operating professional women's hockey league in North America.
The Blades held a loose but hardworking practice on November 20th at the Clark Athletic Center at UMass. Their practice lasted two hours and showcased all of the skill sets that have made their hot start possible--they did lightning fast passing drills, aggressive one-on-one rushes, and fun odd-man scrimmages. They seemed ready as a team to face the Montreal Stars, three-time Clarkson Cup champions who have not started strong this season but likely would have played with a chip on their shoulders, having been shut out by the Blades in their home opener in Montreal.
Boston's Blades are the only CWHL team based in the United States. The League is headquartered in Newmarket, Ontario, and is playing its recently-announced first annual All Star Game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as a result of a partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game (which is free to the public) will be played on December 13th. The Toronto Furies of the CWHL are partnered via sponsorship with the Maple Leafs. The Calgary Inferno have a similar partnership with the Calgary Flames. CWHL sponsors are almost exclusively Canadian, including Scotiabank, MolsonCoors Canada, Sportsnet, Tim Hortons, IBC, Westjet, Winsport, and The Globe and Mail.
Might not just be the Blades games this weekend getting cancelled. Chances of Americans heading to the #CWHL all star game dwindling.— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) November 23, 2014
With the All-Star Game coming up in just a few weeks, it seems that this if things are not resolved in short order, that the All-Star Game may have some players choose not to attend due to the contract issue and other potential disagreements with the CWHL. Further Blades game cancellations may also be in the future. We will update on this story as it develops.
All would like to see the Blades get back on the ice soon. They have the fewest games played of any CWHL team and would have some catching up to do when they return. As reported by Watch This Hockey, 77% of the Blades' roster has at least one point after only three games. Their powerful offense and smart, timely defense look to be a threat throughout the rest of the season.