You might be asking what the heck is the NWHL. Its the new US womens professional hockey league that was started last year.
Ordinarily I would care less about this league but I saw that one of the best young Russian players, Ludmila Belyakova, signed in the league with the New York team the Riveters. So I watched the broadcast of her games on Youtube to see how she and other Russian girls would perform and generally followed news about the league.
The hopeful strategy behind the league is that by keeping it just a 4 team regional league, low travel expenses, and sponsorships that there will be enough income to pay the girls and be profitable and keep growing. One of the selling points of the league is its the first North American womens hockey league to give salaries. The salaries are generally only around like $15,000 a year.
The league also has a small amount of games, mainly just on Sunday afternoons to give the best chance for people to attend games, and this allow the girls to work their other jobs during the week. Will the league be profitable enough off ticket sales and sponsorship money to give a proper salary? In my opinion no. Investors are already suing to get their money back.
Of course as I expected to happen the league right away started pushing things like gender quality and lesbianism as a rallying point to try to get interest. Why can’t it simply just be about girls playing hockey? US sports these days are all about being used as a vehicle to push the liberal social agenda.
While everyone was patting the NWHL on the back for being so progressive starting a womens pro hockey league, few noticed that Russia also started a womens hockey league which was rebranded this season as the ЖХЛ which would crudely translate as ZHHL.
The Russian womens hockey league has 7 teams from regions all across Russia and is possibly adding more. In the Russian league they play more games and play in bigger arenas.
The Russian womens hockey league is all about developing female hockey for the national team. Its not about political agendas. Its not about trying to turn a profit. Its just about giving the girls the infrastructure to improve their skills and build the prestige of Russian womens hockey. Russian sports aren’t so much about commercialization and trying to squeeze every last cent out of the consumer.
Russia only really started developing female hockey in recent years. I think they will eventually be on par with US and Canada in the future when more of their very young prospects get older. Canada and US have had a big advantage in girls hockey because the other strong nations in the male versions of these sports around the world haven’t put much into the development of the female side.
Some Russian girls took the opportunity to play in the NWHL because it has more high end talents and this gave them a chance to play against these US and Canadian girls to further their development as a national team member.
If you watched the games you would see that Ludmila Belyakova was one of the most promising young players in the league. She showed all around high end skill and a solid two way game. Here is an article that details her solid metric statistics. In my opinion, outside of the handful of biggest stars from US and Canada, she was one of the standouts in the league.
On top of her on ice talent she also has a great look which gives an additional marketability to her value. You would think that given her youth and talent that she would be re-signed by the New York Riveters or one of the other teams would snatch her up as a desirable free agent.
Instead she finds herself out of the league. She did not get one contract offer. In this article Belyakova states… “After I received the status of a free agent, I sent letters to the managers of all league clubs, but received no offers for the contract. Apparently my game is not suited to them.”
The article tries to cover for the NWHL by pushing a ludicrous hypothesis that she wasn’t offered a contract due to her not having great English skills. That of course is a load of crap. Belyakova might not have the greatest English skills but enough to get by. Shes a hockey player, not a public speaker.
The real reason Belyakova and possibly other Russians are probably being blackballed out of the NWHL is because of the lies being put out by a discredited lab guy who is being paid by the Russophobia industry as part of the hybrid war on Russian sports.
He put out a ridiculous statement that the entire Russian national womens hockey team at Sochi was on steroids. Think about this for a second. First of all most of the girls on the Russian womens hockey team are slim average built girls clearly not on any sort of muscle builder. Secondly, how could you get a bunch of women to not only agree to use anabolic steroids but not say anything. None of it jives with logic or reality.
There is simply nothing to indicate that story has any legs to it. None of these girls has failed a test. In 2015 the World Championship was hosted in Sweden. The Russian girls finished 4th and nobody failed a test. In 2016 the World Championship was hosted in Canada. The Russian girls won bronze (a much better result than Sochi where they finished only 6th) and nobody failed a test.
Are the NWHL teams simply buying into the anti Russian hysteria and lies that the media is pushing and conciously deciding not to sign Russian players? Is this another casualty in the all out hybrid war on Russian sports.
If you are a female hockey fan please follow the Russian womens league this coming season. Their website is http://whl.khl.ru and much of their games are broadcast on Youtube.
Hopefully the Russian womens hockey league can take the same path as their womens basketball league. Many top WNBA players like Diana Taurasi play for Russia teams much of the year where they make the bulk of their income. Europe is simply the place to be for a professional womens basketball player. Eventually top Western female hockey players like Hillary Knight could be playing in Russia as well.
Female sports work best where teams are run by a rich guy/company who loves the game and is willing to operate the team at a financial loss. That seems unable to happen here in America because of obsession with profit in sports.