Time to do the right thing for the future of women’s hockey

A while ago, Elliotte Friedman had a note in her 32 Thoughts blog about head coaches Craig Berube of the St Louis Blues, Dallas Eakins of the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild’s Dean Evason, all in the final season of their appointments. Let me try to move this a bit forward after checking the issue around.

I was told by someone around the team in St Louis that it would be a surprise if Berube was not extended and brought back. There have certainly been speed fluctuations this season, which always lead to whispers, but Berube has the Blues on good course despite all their problems this season. I can not imagine Berube being thrilled that an extension has taken so long to get done.

Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin told me directly in my radio program that he would get a deal in place with Evason, and that is in line with what he has been saying all along. So watch for that to happen at some point.

So the Dallas Eakins.

This situation is confusing.

There is no coach who had less help from his GM in the low season than Eakins. New assistants Geoff Ward, Mike Stothers and Newell Brown were mainly brought in to help special teams, but in terms of player changes there were none (there was a flirtation with the Buffalo Sabers over Jack Eichel, but as Friedman mentioned in our podcast, it was asked in return is believed to be Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and two first-round picks).

Murray, as we all know, resigned from his position to get help with his behavioral problems and addiction, and as the organization seeks a new full-time general manager, Jeff Solomon is in charge on a temporary basis.

But so far, there has been no conversation about an extension with the Eakins despite the turnaround we have seen from the Ducks season over the course of the season.

They are a greatly improved game-driving team that can now consistently get pucked into scoring areas (especially the slot machine), while at the other end of the ice they now limit the same types of chances and defend the slot machine better.

And like everyone who’s seen the Ducks this season, they look like a very different team and one that’s really entertaining to watch. And not just because of Trevor Zegras, though he has become appointment programming.

Eakins is in talks for Jack Adams with coaches like Mike Sullivan, Evason, Jon Cooper, Rod Brind’Amour, (Canucks fans reading this say probably did not sleep on Bruce Boudreau), but still have no deal beyond this season . And given what happened to Murray, this is an organization that needs stability. Perhaps this is one of those situations where the ownership steps in to say, “this is our coach.”

Now the organization may not want to extend Eakins until a new GM is in place, and that’s reasonable, but if they decide to walk away from Eakins, he would be a sought-after coach after developing young players like Zegras, Troy Terry, Isaac Lundestrom and helping start the NHL career for future Ducks center Mason McTavish.

Let’s see where this story goes.

Ok, the International Ice Hockey Federation.

I feel sorry for the one who handles their social media during the junior world cup.

The IIHF shut down all programming in January, including and specifically the women’s U18 for the second year in a row, became a big hot button this weekend and was met with scorn from some of the elite in the game as….

After talking to people involved in the women’s game over the last few days, one thing has become obvious – this is not just about the hockey international sanctioning body closing a specific women’s tournament, it’s about an accumulation of little things that have led to frustration and a feeling that women in sports are treated as second class in relation to their male counterparts.

It’s not hard to understand their sense of irritation and sympathize with a sense of ‘here we go again’ that many of them carry and have done so from an early age in the sport.

One of the questions I heard from the players I spoke to over the weekend was about the men’s U18 tournament last April and how they could find a stage in Texas for their event after a cancellation in March in Michigan. And why can the IIHF not work on finding a similar situation for the U18 women?

PWHPA Operations Consultant Jayna Hefford framed the issue well in a Christmas Day tweet and wondered why the IIHF chose to give up instead of exploring solutions.

I’m team Jayna on this one.

Hopefully the IIHF will reconsider and look to find a place for this tournament on another date.

Luc Tardif is the new president of the IIHF and this will prove to be one of his first tests.

Here is something about women’s hockey that I would like you to consider.

I look at athletes like this – they exist in states of either potential or reality.

Take Connor McDavid.

Provided he stays healthy, throughout his career we will be able to see the very best version of Connor McDavid because the environment exists that allows this process to take place. He does not have to share his attention or his life. He can actualize as the best possible version of himself.

Can you say the same about Marie-Philip Poulin? As great as she is, does she or a female player have a way of becoming their absolute best for that matter? Or do they spend their lives playing in a constant state of potentiality?

Do you know how frustrating it can be for an athlete?

And do not you feel robbed as a fan?

I like Hockey with a big H.

Not just men’s hockey.

Hockey.

If you’re worried about things like “the good of the game” (and we ever hear that much), it’s important to ask what game you’re talking about.

Only men or both men and women?

And I’m not that interested in the economic argument either.

Women’s hockey is an investment opportunity with a huge growth potential that seeps down to small / youth associations, skills coaches, ice rink rental, equipment manufacturing and more.

If you make the women’s game an in-depth part of the hockey ecosystem, everyone will benefit.

As a sport, we have long ignored the potential that exists here. On all levels.

And bless any female player who has never stopped, even though they have been given a million reasons and opportunities to do so.

A girl has to prove she can play, while a boy has to prove he can not.

And that’s not true.

This weekend may have been framed to be about a single women’s tournament that was scotched, but the conversation around this is much bigger.

Think about what is right for ‘hockey’ and choose your side.

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