With the 2018 Winter Olympics occurring in PyeongChang this February, many female hockey players will not be participating in the 2017-18 hockey season. The majority of North America’s female hockey talent plays in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) or the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), which are the top two female hockey leagues in the world.
The Canadian Women’s Olympic team has begun their centralization process, which includes 28 of the best female hockey players in Canada. Out of those 28, 17 play in the CWHL. As for the NWHL, 10 players have been named to the US Women’s Olympic team, along with two draft picks. The two leagues will be missing their star players this season as they will be training with their respective national teams for the upcoming Olympics. This may give some other players a window of opportunity to shine this season. Some players who are under looked may finally get their time to rise above this season instead of hiding in the shadows of their Olympic counterparts. For the most part, the teams are equal in talent, however, it is inevitable that some teams have more Olympians than others. This puts the league title up for grabs to a normally weaker team.
Now, according to the NWHL, girl’s hockey is the second fastest growing sport in America. Since 2015, when the NWHL was formed, registration in USA’s female hockey programs have increased by 8%. The talent may be scarce this coming season in each of the leagues due to the Olympics being upon us.
What do you think? Will not having their best players in the lineup this season hurt the growth of the game?