Hockey Night in Canada podcast: Women’s pro hockey saga

For years women’s pro hockey has had two professional leagues. The CWHL and the NWHL. You would be absolutely hard-pressed to find anyone who thought that was a good idea. Coaches, players — even commissioners — agreed that in order for the game to grow you needed one league with all the best female players in the world in it.

Then on March 31st, the bomb dropped. The CWHL announced that they were ceasing operations, saying that their business model was “economically unsustainable.”

But that turned out to be nothing compared to what happened next. More than 200 women from the now defunct CWHL and the one remaining league the NWHL banded together and released a statement:

“We will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves… It’s time for a long-term viable professional league that will showcase the greatest product of women’s professional hockey in the world.” #ForTheGame

Then, another twist to the story. Anya Battaglino, the current director of the NWHL Players’ Association, joined the podcast and divulged some new information. The NWHL is in the process of offering it’s players a new contract, the best she has ever seen.

Battaglino is on record saying she doesn’t believe in the boycott and thinks it sets the game backwards.

Sarah Nurse is one of the 200 players who are part of the “For the Game” movement. Sarah shares how the movement got started and how terrifying the process has been. She also reveals the abuse she has taken on social media for taking this stance.

The Hockey Night In Canada podcast is a weekly CBC Sports production.

Be sure to subscribe to the Hockey Night in Canada podcast to get your fresh weekly episode. It’s available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen to previous Hockey Night podcasts

Episode 31:

Are there two better words in the hockey dictionary than Game 7s? And when 60 minutes isn’t enough time to decide the winner you have the three best words in hockey? Game 7 overtime!

Episode 30:

The first round of the NHL playoffs is one of the most exciting times in sports. To help break down all the madness, we enlisted former NHLer and current NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick.

Episode 29:

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Wayne Gretzky’s last game. Believe it or not, there is a generation of hockey fans that have never seen Gretzky play before. On this week’s episode, we look back on that day as the Great One joins the podcast.

Episode 28:

Justin Bourne from The Athletic joins Pizzo in studio to go over the biggest topics entering the playoffs. And on Ice Level, Sophia Jurksztowicz chats with Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell. The “Bunch of Jerks”were the feel good story of the 2019 regular season.

Episode 27:

We look back on all the excitement from the 2018-19 regular season. From the Tampa Bay Lightning’s incredible run, to a season packed with scoring, to Alexander Ovechkin reaching the 50-goal plateau once again — we go into detail about all the things that made the season so memorable. 

Episode 26:

It’s not quite the American Electoral system, but the NHL awards still mystify fans who try to figure out how the ballots, candidates, votes and all the rest of the process actually works. Rob Pizzo and Sophia Jurksztowicz deserve a public service award themselves for shining light on the opaque business of picking the five most deserving players (and coach) of the regular hockey season.

Episode 25:

Terrible Ted Lindsay was one of the most talented, yet feared, players on the ice. He won the Art Ross trophy and four Stanley Cups with Detroit. But maybe his greatest achievement was off the ice, as the driving force behind the creation of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

Episode 24:

Despite efforts to be an open and inclusive game, racism still exists in hockey. We speak to Karl Subban, the father of P.K., Malcolm and Jordan. He provides an interesting take on how to deal with racism and how he has instilled positive values in his kids.

Episode 23:

Despite all the advancement’s in women’s hockey, there is still room to grow. In this episode, we celebrate women’s impact on the game.

Episode 22:

After all the wheeling and dealing was done, which teams improved enough to have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup? We break down the top 5 contenders after the trade dealine.

Episode 21:

Trade deadline day is one of the most anticipated on the hockey calendar, so we take a look at what goes into the media circus surrounding it and what past transactions reaped immediate rewards.

Episode 20:

Russian players have come a long way since former Buffalo Sabres GM Gerry Meehan brought Alexander Mogilny to North America. In this episode, we talk about the evolution of the Russian player in the NHL from Mogilny to Ovi.

Episode 19:

The Leaf’s long drought turns hockey lovers maroon with pain in Toronto, but what can we learn from the lean times? And is there a glimmer of hope in that five year horizon presented by the Auston Matthews’ signing?

Episode 18:

Scott Russell fills in for host Rob Pizzo and talks to three legendary voices of the game. Jim Robson, Dick Irvin and Joe Bowen’s narratives have brought the game to life for so many fans.

Episode 17:

Former Hockey Night In Canada reporter Scott Russell, who was a broadcaster at 10 all-star games, joins us to discuss his favourite moments.

Episode 16:

Chirping has been a big part of the game for years, so we get a crash course in the good, the bad and the ugly of it from one of the NHL’s all-time best trash-talkers Matthew Barnaby.

Episode 15:

Women are coaching, scouting, broadcasting and being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. But more can be done. Why not a female referee, head coach or general manager in the NHL? Hayley Wickenheiser shares her insight.

Episode 14:

With the NHL season reaching the halfway point, it’s time to take a look the highs and lows of the year so far. Stanley Cup champion Glenn Healy helps breakdown what has transpired so far this season.

Episode 13:

We take a look back at the best interviews of 2018, which includes Daniel Carcillo opening up about the hazing he experienced as a member of the Sarnia Sting.

Episode 12:

Hockey books are the perfect gift for any rabid fan and Jay Baruchel, Ken Reid and James Duthie have a few suggestions that should cover anyone on your holiday lists.

Episode 11:

The NHL recently confirmed that when the 2021-22 season begins, there will be 32 teams in the league. We take a closer look at Seattle’s expansion bid, the history of expansion, as well as the future of expansion.

Episode 10:

The axe has fallen on four coaches and one general manager so far this season, but we sometimes forget that coaches are human and have families. Former NHL coach Barry Melrose breaks down what life is like for coaches after they’re fired.

Episode 9:

Hazing has been an accepted part of hockey for decades now. But recently some disturbing stories have come into the public eye. Stories that involved abuse, bullying, and some horrible behaviour … all disguised as “hazing.”

Episode 8:

They’re a unique breed — the keepers of the crease are often known to be a little eccentric. Ilya Bryzgalov joins in to help explain what makes them so different from their teammates.

Episode 7:

Recent HHOF inductee Jayna Hefford joins Pizzo to break down the 2018 class, while selection committee member Brian Burke sheds some light on who the most important person in the game is — and it may not be who you think.

Episode 6:

Pizzo sits down with Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean to talk about the top storylines one month into the season and MacLean also fuels the debate over who the best player in the game is right now.

Episode 5:

Hockey fans depend on certain trusted insiders to get their breaking news, but how exactly do they get these scoops? Turns out it’s harder work than some might expect.

Episode 4:

The fans love seeing the puck in the net…so what about the poor guys between the pipes? Are they getting pummelled for the sake of rule-tinkering?

Episode 3:

Could there be a more thankless gig? Perfection means being ignored. A single mistake and you are marked for years of noisy abuse. Don Koharski officiated over 1,700 regular season games. He and Pizzo discuss the infamous “donut incident”.

Episode 2:

Rivalries are the heart and soul of NHL excitement, but the days of brawling are mostly a thing of the past. Chris Nilan and Kris Draper talk about those old grudges, while some current players insist rivalries are as hot as ever.

Episode 1:

At the beginning of every NHL season, hockey fans generally have more questions than answers when it comes to their favourite teams — and the start of the 2018-19 campaign was no different. Pizzo tackled five burning questions on the minds of the hockey faithful.