The Ice Garden has more details on this move, but the important thing you need to know about what happened in Boston women’s hockey today is that the CWHL announced today that the Boston Blades would be moving out to Worcester, MA for the forseeable future, to play in the fairly new Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center, who also happens to hold the Worcester Railers, the Islanders ECHL affiliate.
The team also prepared for this move by making a massive upgrade in the logo department, absconding the miserable rectangle...thing for a much nicer and professional looking shield.
Very nice. But I’m sure you’re wondering what the deal is behind calling this “the best thing that could happen to them.” Wouldn’t winning a championship be better? Getting a big free agent? What’s the deal?
Well, let’s run you back through history for a minute or two to explain to you what the heck was happening to the fomer Boston Blades that would make them want to move.
The Blades have been the wandering mercenaries of women’s hockey, and the CWHL especially. Even prior to the rival league forming, they had real trouble being accessible to the general public of Boston, usually playing their games in Marlborough, which is about 50 minutes by car from Boston and a gobsmacking 2 and a half hours at absolute minimum by public transit. This was a frequent point of tension with players as our piece from a few years ago pointed out, amongst a host of other issues, namely because it severely affected the team’s attendance, which has still been a huge problem for the team even when they posted regularly successful seasons.
Post-NWHL founding, the Blades were pretty badly decimated, and hadn’t done much better to make things easier for prospective fans and die hards to come looking for the games, as last year they played in Winthrop at the Larsen rink, and the year before that they shacked up at BU’s Walter Brown arena and also played some games at Umass Boston’s rink. Not helping this is that the team received barely any marketing support from the league or their local populace until the town of Winthrop actively tried to get people to go.
Stability counts for a lot in a franchise, and the Blades desperately have needed it for awhile. Moving to Worcester, in a decently sized arena with good facilities, which has a pretty sizeable population and a group that seems pretty interested in letting them succeed, even just financially, is best for the team and for the sport in general. Whether or not this translates to on-ice success is unknown, but anything is better than where they were previously; unsure of where they’d be.
So good luck to the newly christened Worcester Blades in their new home and to a successful new season!